Ex-Jefferson High students charged in break-in complete community service

November 26, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Fifteen former Jefferson High School students charged in a March 2008 break-in at the school each have completed 80 hours of community service and have paid the school system more than $3,000 to cover costs of cleaning up the mess left behind, according to Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steve Groh.

The students initially were charged with destruction of property, criminal trespassing and conspiracy. However, none of the students was convicted of any charge because officials faced a tough dilemma, officials said.

Nine of the students were charged as juveniles, and juveniles do not carry a record for charges against them, said Pete Dougherty, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

Because other students charged as adults were sometimes only "weeks apart in age," it was felt that would be unfair to the adult students since a criminal record possibly could hurt their ability to obtain scholarships, Dougherty said.


It was agreed that no further action would be taken against any of the students as long as they stayed out of trouble, Dougherty said.

The community service the students were given included painting school property and loading boxes to be taken to Washington High School when that new school opened this year, Superintendent of Schools Susan Wall said.

"They (school officials) figured that was onerous enough," Groh said of the community service that was imposed on the former students. "They worked them hard."

The break-in at the school occurred about 11 p.m. on March 30, officials said.

It appears a couple individuals entered the school through a hatch in the roof and let the rest of the group inside through a door, police said.

About 600 desks were dragged into hallways, 31 telephones were hidden, and a teacher's grade book was put in a microwave and turned on, police said. School workers had to buff marks off the floors caused by the vandalism.

The break-in at the school north of Charles Town, W.Va., was part of a regular trend of a senior prank, but the incident went too far, school officials have said.

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