A group of seniors at Sophie B. Wright will not walk across the stage at graduation because of a water fight.
Students said the fight happened Friday during lunch as a senior prank.
Now, parents are furious and said their children worked too hard to have an opportunity like graduation taken away from them.
Monday afternoon, parents arranged a meeting with each other to figure out what they could do to fix the outcome of the incident.
They say they are heartbroken over the punishment handed down.
“I cried all this morning because I’m, like, really, graduation?” said Kariell Bass, one of the students facing the punishment. “I’m the first child. My mom had me when she was 17. This is a big accomplishment for her and me.”
Students said the principal knew about the water balloon fight, and warned them several times not to do it inside.
The students said they went outside during lunch.
“We just wanted to have fun for once,” said Lyric Fernandez, a student. “Now, we can’t even participate in senior activities or walk? What’s the point?”
Some students admitted a few went inside the school.
The principal said at least one teacher and a student were hurt.
Their punishment for all students involved ended up being a five-day suspension, no prom, no senior activities, and no walking at graduation.
Parents and students say the punishment is too harsh.
“Let them clean your building. Let them do community service. Children make mistakes,” said Rebecca Solomon, the mother to one of the students. “They were having fun.”
The school issued a statement on the incident explaining their decision:
“Sophie B. Wright High School does not tolerate any behavior that disrupts our community or creates an unsafe environment. Our policies are clearly defined and our students are constantly reminded that their actions have consequences.
“The incident on April 5 caused injury to at least one teacher and one student. Additionally, school property was sprayed with water and a restroom was compromised. Both personal injury and effects on property are currently under investigation. It is possible that damage caused by these students will result in criminal and civil actions.
“The administration was aware of the potential action (described as a prank), and we advised staff, teachers and students that it was a violation of school policy. After reminding students several times during the week of April 1 about the importance of safety within school community and providing warnings about consequences, several students decided to coordinate and participate in the action on campus. They prompted the incident even though they understood that the police department and the non-profit School Board had been notified. The students were directed not to participate and warned that the consequences of their participation in the prank would be their elimination in senior activities, including graduation.
“The investigations into the damage to people and property will continue and further criminal and civil actions will be determined. In the meantime, we want to remind our school community of the importance of adhering to our policies that emphasize safety to all people and property within our jurisdiction,” said the statement from Principal Sharon Clark.
A board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday night, and parents say they plan to attend.
Graduation is May 13.