Nineteen Lake City High School seniors were suspended Tuesday for vandalizing the freshman class homecoming float.
The 18 boys and one girl are accused of breaking into a fairgrounds storage shed last Wednesday and ripping apart the giant wolf head that ninth-graders had spent some 250 hours creating.
“These aren’t bad kids. They just really made some poor choices,” Principal John Brumley said. “We’re going to hold them accountable.”
Brumley said he expects most of the students to be back in class this afternoon after they and their parents have met with school officials. However, the suspensions could last up to three days if the parents don’t come for conferences or if the students won’t agree to spend 10 hours in school service on Saturdays. That includes cleaning the grounds after football games.
There also could be more suspensions if the Sheriff’s Department identifies more vandalism suspects.
The school’s discipline is separate from the continuing law enforcement investigation. If charges are filed with the prosecutor, Brumley said, they probably will be misdemeanors.
Damage to the float amounted to $314, one-tenth the early estimates. A damaged shed door was repaired by fairgrounds staff, Brumley said.
The principal emphasized that there is no tradition of vandalism associated with homecoming - despite reports to the contrary. The only incidents have taken place during parades when students have jumped off their own floats and somehow damaged another.
After the recent vandalism, some parents of freshmen were angry, thinking the offenders would not be punished. Brumley’s daughter was among the 25 or 30 freshmen who had worked extensively on the float.
“There will be some who said we went too light on them; others will say ‘that’s just high-school kids being high-school kids, and you’re over-reacting to it,”’ Brumley said. “I think we’ve exacted an appropriate penalty.”