Students who broke into Jefferson High as prank could face expulsion

31 classrooms opened, 31 telephones hidden and 600 desks moved

31 classrooms opened, 31 telephones hidden and 600 desks moved

April 02, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- Twelve of 17 Jefferson High School and Shepherd University students suspected of breaking into Jefferson High School as part of a prank Sunday night have admitted involvement in the incident, assistant principal Tim Sites said Tuesday.

It is possible some of the students could be expelled from school for the rest of the year, and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is conducting a separate investigation, officials said.

The group broke into the school about 11 p.m. Sunday night through a hatch in the roof, officials said.

Sites said 31 classrooms were opened, 31 telephones were hidden in ceilings and 600 desks were dragged into the hallway, scratching the floors.

Sites said he believes students were able to get into the classrooms with keys that were duplicated by a student at the school who was in a position of authority, Sites said.


That student has since been "stripped of his authority," he said.

Of the 31 classroom phones that were hidden above ceiling tiles, five were still missing Tuesday afternoon, Sites said.

The students also wrote inappropriate comments in Spanish on chalkboards, Sites said.

Sites considered the incident as a senior prank. Last year, there was vandalism at the school with permanent markers, Sites said.

Sites said Sunday's incident went too far.

"It's a serious issue. It's not a laughing matter," Sites said.

The students were in a group together at one point during the break-in and used masks to hide their identities, according to Sites and police. Although the students used tape to block surveillance cameras, school officials were able to get footage of them, Sites said.

Of the 12 who have admitted involvement in the break-in, Principal Howard Guth and Superintendent of Schools Susan Wall could consider expulsions for the students, Sites said.

A final decision on expulsion would be up to the Jefferson County Board of Education, Sites said.

Sites said Tuesday afternoon he was still waiting to talk to others suspected of being involved.

The other five individuals believed to have been involved included two female Shepherd University students, Sites said.

The damage to the school comes days before state and local officials are scheduled to tour the building at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sites said.

The school along Flowing Springs Road north of Charles Town has been renovated at a cost of $15.3 million, and a representative from Gov. Joe Manchin's office is among those expected to tour the school Sunday, Sites said.

To make sure the school is ready for the visit, school officials plan to work for about 36 hours after classes end Friday to buff marks off the floors caused by the vandalism, Sites said.

The fact that the students were able to breach the school's security system is an issue that school officials will examine, Board of Education President Pete Dougherty said.

Open house

A dedication and open house will be Sunday at Jefferson High School to showcase a recent renovation of the school. A dedication ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. in the auditorium and tours will be offered from 3:30 to 5. Among the groups participating will be Jefferson Jazz, which will provide musical entertainment.

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