High school pranks go beyond fun

Published 9:57 am Saturday, May 25, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson


RESERVE – Parents and teachers of the St. John the Baptist Parish School District showed up in force during Thursday night’s school board meeting to listen in as the school board addressed two hot topics.

East St. John High School is the site of a senior prank day every year for it’s soon-to-be graduates. This year’s prank day went far beyond the usual activities. A groups of seniors, whose names have not yet been released to the media, reportedly wreaked havoc throughout the school’s temporary campus at the former Leon Godchaux Junior High, committing acts that went far beyond the typical toilet paper in the trees, such as squirting condiments on laptop computers and gluing doors shut. The investigation is ongoing, but the students in question have been recommended for expulsion.

A ball park estimate of the damages to school property totaled $11,650. According to a letter issued by Principal Patricia Triche, the students involved in the incident will not be allowed to participate in any graduation or school activities and will likely be required to pay restitution before receiving their diplomas or school records.

Parents and students of the school made it known that they did not feel expulsion should be an option for the students since the incident did not occur during school hours. Board member Patrick Sanders noted that it was important to check the behavior of the adults involved in the situation as well as that of the students.

The School Board wavered back and forth on whether the matter should even be discussed in the meeting, given that litigation on the matter is pending and the full scope of the situation has yet to be revealed. Orenthal Jasmin, the board’s legal advisor, recommended that board members follow procedure to avoid any trouble.

“I’ve reviewed the board’s policy and my recommendation is that we follow the same due process procedures that we usually utilize when it comes to the issues of student expulsion. That process would be that it first go through Mr. Oubre (director of Child Welfare and Attendance) after an investigation has been conducted, then go to Mr. Smith (superintendent). If there’s going to be an appeal, then an appeal would be brought before the board,” he said, after the board took a recess to gain clarification on the matter.

The school board ultimately decided to table the matter until Oubre had a chance to review the situation.

The school board also resolved to use $2.6 million from the recently acquired bond money to make East St. John Elementary School a temporary campus for Lake Pontchartrain Elementary School. CSRS will organize the land surveying for the temporary facility.

The resolution was meant to avoid further distressing the displaced students with long bus rides and being spread across multiple campuses but was also met with some dissatisfaction from attendees of the meeting who implied that the answer to solving the problem was not creating an additional problem.

“I sympathize with Lake Pontchartrain, and I understand what they went through. But we’re looking at it like this. We’re going to be out of line in our school. They’re going to have to shove us all around at our school. You want to make our school all disorganized, because we’re going to have to shove this and that around. We love our children also,” said Brenda Anderson, a parent at East. St. John Elementary.

Lake Pontchartrain Elementary staff members, however, were overjoyed at the resolution and gave a round of applause after the motion passed.

The St. John School Board will address the matters of the temporary campus and the recent vandalism at East St. John High School at special meeting on Tuesday, May 28, at 5 p.m.