Students banned from graduation ceremony after senior prank

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- About thirty IPS high school seniors had to miss their graduation ceremony, after officials at Crispus Attucks High School say a senior prank went way too far.

IPS officials say the prank inside Crispus Attucks caused serious damage that’s now led to a criminal investigation. However, students and parents say the school district is being too heavy-handed.

Valedictorian Kayla Hawthorne, who was banned from Thursday’s graduation ceremony, admits she was there during the incident, but not with the group of students who caused the most damage.

“But a lot of the more destructive things that happened were on the second and third floor which most people didn’t go to and then happened after we left,” said Hawthorne.

Students say some people used chalk to draw on walls; others say a fire extinguisher was set off and fire alarms pulled. IPS isn’t commenting on specific damage, only saying it’s “very serious in nature.”

“The message is that IPS will not tolerate criminal activity of any kind in the name of a senior prank or otherwise,” said district spokeswoman Carrie Cline-Black.

IPS has opened a criminal investigation into vandalism, adding that whoever was inside when the prank happened could also face consequences.

“You know it’s guilt by association,” said Cline-Black, “and it’s something that our parents taught us as kids if you’re caught in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing, that will you face the same consequences.

IPS officials even say some parents took part. Senior parent Yolanda Wilkins says she was there during the incident, but to supervise

“We used a lot of balloons,” said Wilkins, “and basically the kids was [sic] just having fun, a senior prank.”

When asked if she thought things went too far, Wilkins responded, “I did, once other students arrived who wasn’t [sic] with us.”

But some parents say IPS banning their kids from walking is too much.

“The place was not on fire, they didn’t flood place,” said parent Theresa Torrence, “I’ve seen worse stuff…you know they have to hold themselves accountable for what they did, but they didn’t do anything that bad.

Others had similar feelings.

“To not allow the kids to walk is punitive not just on the kids, but on the family and on the rest of the graduating class,” said Robert Hawthorne, who is the father of the class valedictorian.

Some parents and students have said that the school principal was aware this was happening and had given permission for a prank. Cline-Black, however, said the principal did not permit the vandalism and did not allow the students into the building.