140 students may not walk at Wekiva HS graduation because of senior prank

Orange County schools says vandalism is not prank

By Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Students tell News 6 that 140 seniors are not allowed to walk at the Wekiva High School graduation after several people were arrested on vandalism charges for their part in a senior prank.

Jeff Joseph, 18, was one of eight people arrested last week on suspicion of vandalizing Wekiva High School.

The suspects, including two juveniles, are charged with burglary, criminal mischief and trespassing on school grounds. 

"I didn't think it would be a big deal, but they made it a big deal over nothing," Joseph said. 

According to the arrest report, there was spray paint on walls throughout the school, toilet paper and bubble wrap placed on trees, glitter thrown around, eggs smashed on windows and a fire extinguisher that was used. School officials estimated the total cost of damages at $20,000.

One of the people arrested told deputies school officials were aware of the prank and were told "they were allowed to do their prank as long as there would be nothing permanent," the report states. 

"It was kinda dumb, so that's the only regret I got on it," Joseph said.

The school district isn't laughing at the senior prank. 

James Sully, 19, is one of the students who was told he's not allowed to walk at graduation. He said he was not at the school during the vandalism. 

"You know how much walking means to some people? You know how much it means to me and my family? I've been waiting for this for 13 years," he said. 

Students told News 6 many of the seniors who cannot walk at graduation were part of a senior group chat where they talked about the prank, including sending pictures of students buying supplies. 

Students started a petition fighting to get their chance to walk at graduation back.

The school district told News 6 vandalism is not a prank and said the students unlawfully entered Wekiva High School damaging the school. OCPS also said committing vandalism to a school is a reason to revoke the privilege of a student walking at graduation. 

The district sent out a message to parents last week.
 
"Vandalizing property, even it it's a senior prank, will not be tolerated and individuals will be prosecuted," the message said.

The school district would not say how many students are not allowed to walk at graduation, citing student privacy.

A school district spokesperson added they are "investigating the claims for adult involvement and have been provided no evidence to substantiate such a claim."

Joseph admitted some of his classmates went too far, but both he and Sully feel like this punishment is unfair. 

"I don't think nobody should actually be denied the right to walk because, like I said, that's an opportunity that everybody has been waiting for their whole life," Sully said.

The principal told students if they do not walk at graduation a parent of someone on the student's contact list may pick up the diploma next week. 

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