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Newport Independent - Newport, AR
  • Expulsion, suspension possible for students involved in prank

  • Superintendent: Students not wearing “white hoods” on surveillance video
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  • The Stuttgart School District is following its discipline policy and considering expulsion of one student and more than likely a short-term suspension for a second student following a senior prank.
    School administrators started their first day of school by finding dead goldfish in the school fountain and one side of the brick building spray painted.
    The Stuttgart Police Department was called out to the school Sunday night according to the incident report that was released Thursday. According to the report the officers found several juveniles running from school property.
    SPD Ptl. Kyle Stokes and Ptl. William Basore initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle with four minors. The students were identified and told to go home, according to the report. At that time the only thing officers found on the school property was Saran Wrap around the student parking lot.  
    It wasn’t until the first day of school on Monday that school officials found “The South Will Rise Again ARCO ‘Merica” spray painted on a brick wall in the courtyard of Stuttgart High School.
    School officials and SPD School Resource Officer Krysta Campbell reviewed the surveillance footage. At 2 a.m. Monday morning, four suspects were seen walking through the teacher parking lot to the courtyard. One of the students spray painted the brick while the other three appeared to be walking around.
    “Student(s) were not wearing white hood(s) on camera footage,” Stuttgart Superintendent Dr. Melvin Bryant said about rumors circulating the town.
    School administrators then turned to the social media site Facebook and found a photo that provided as evidence as to who was involved in some of the pranks. Those students were identified and called in for questioning along with the four students that had been stopped by police the night before.
    Through these students, it was discovered that the prank earlier in the night included putting goldfish in the fountain, signs on the front lawn of SHS, plastic cups that read “2014” on the fence posts and Saran Wrap around the entrance of the student parking lot.
    “I was told that some unknown suspects tried to Saran Wrap the donkey that was in the fence near the agri building,” Campbell said in her report. “I was then told that some unknown suspect climbed the fence to the greenhouse and moved tables around in the greenhouse and cut some holes in the plastic.”
    During these meetings with students officials learned that students did try to Saran Wrap the donkey, but the animal was not near the fence and moving around too much to actually put the plastic on the animal.
    All the students kept repeating the same name of a 17-year-old student they believed to be involved in the spray painting.
    Page 2 of 2 - The student, along with his mother and stepfather, were then called for a meeting. The student originally denied any involvement.
    The parents of the second student, another 17-year-old, were also called in for a meeting. The students admitted to being on school property, one spray painting the brick while the other sprayed Round Up on the courtyard grass. Both sets of parents said they would pay for the damages caused by their child and any clean up.
    SPD estimated the cost of clean up of the spray paint at $300, while the  damage to the courtyard grass was estimated at $200.
    “I just think it was a prank that went too far — bad idea on the part of student,” Bryant said about the crime when asked if he thought the prank was racially motivated.
    As the students await their punishment through the school, the criminal case has been turned over to Arkansas County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Dittrich and Arkansas County Juvenile Detention Officer Fonda Scherm for possible criminal charges.
    Scherm’s office had not responded to calls as of press time on any formal charges being filed at this time. Bryant did not respond when asked if an expulsion hearing had been set.
    Look to the Daily Leader as information becomes available.
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