LCHS will take precautions next year to prevent vandalism

June 11, 2004|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - A senior prank gone too far has parents of Lincoln County high schoolers filing police reports, asking others to do the same, and citing the school as responsible for damage compensation.

Jimmy Gordon addressed the school board Thursday on behalf of a junior at the school whose white Ford Explorer was damaged by seniors during their early dismissal the week of graduation. While leaving the school unattended, unidentified pranksters spread honey and glitter on the vehicle, writing "seniors rule" on the windows and covering the Explorer with plastic wrap.

Combined with hours under intense sunshine, the plastic formed an oven and baked the glitter into the paint, which now must be completely redone, said Gordon. Estimates from two locations put the cost of repairs at $1,800.

It is a cost the school should pick up after leaving the lot unattended that morning, said the junior's mother, Kathy Southerland. But school officials don't agree.


Both Southerland and her son signed a parking liability waiver at the beginning of the school year, said high school Assistant Principal Wes Cornett. The school is no more liable for damage in the parking lot than Wal-Mart should a car door get dented in their lot, said Cornett.

About 17 other vehicles were vandalized

The Explorer joined about 17 other vehicles vandalized in the school lot that day, said Gordon. Cars were smeared with honey and glitter, with one driver even finding a dead, gutted animal on his or her vehicle.

A police report was filed with state police in regard to the Southerland vehicle, said Gordon, and is now being investigated by Trooper Clyde Bertram. Attempts by the school to identify the pranksters failed, said Cornett, but policies are already in place to prevent such acts next term.

In a letter to school board Chairman Jim Kelley, high school Principal Ty Howard said the parking lots would be supervised during seniors' early releases and a special area for senior parking designated.

It is a move that should have been done years ago, said Southerland. These high school pranks have been occurring for several years, Southerland said school officials told her.

"I know there have been pranks in the past, but no damage," said Cornett. "I've never heard of damage ever, since I've been here."

"How many more vandalisms are you going to let happen out there?" Gordon asked the board Thursday.

"I think it's time we say this is enough," said Kelley.

Main goal is having those responsible cover the costs

Board lawyer Winter Huff discussed legal options. The main goal is to identify the damages and hold those responsible to cover the costs, said Huff.

"The first thing is to see if we can find those responsible, and see if we can work the whole thing out to everyone's satisfaction."

High school parent Ronnie Deatherage, whose daughter's vehicle also sustained damage, said he suspected it was the work of three girls and had since confronted one of them. Huff advised Deatherage not to name his list of suspects until their guilt or innocence is known for certain.

Beyond that, said Huff, there is little else the board can do at that stage to help parents. She could not say whether the board's insurance would cover the damages, if the responsible parties are not found.

"That's all we ask for," said Gordon, "that the vehicle be fixed."

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