Washington Co. families upset after seniors punished for Homecoming prank

Washington Co. families upset after seniors punished for Homecoming prank
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:17 PM CDT
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AINSWORTH, Iowa (KCRG) - Families in the Highland Community School District are upset and confused after they say students were punished too severely for a senior prank.

Sunday night, a group of about 9 students say they put forks and mashed potato powder on the school’s lawn. Molly Hartzler, a parent of one of the students involved, said the kids also hung a sign that said “Mash the Pirates.”

The students involved received either a 2- or 3-day suspension as well as a 30-day ban from school activities, including homecoming festivities and the game Friday night.

Avery Johnston was involved with the prank. “We did not ever think in a million years it would go—be taken this far,” said Johnston.

She also said her parents knew about the stunt beforehand. “Yeah, and they were fine with it. Because they knew we were not going to do anything wrong. Like, they know us. We’re good kids.”

The students say they were putting the forks and mashed potatoes on the lawn around 10:30 p.m. Sunday night. Jenna Waters, another senior involved, said around 11:00 p.m. a police officer arrived.

“He was just checking things out, making sure there was nothing, like, bad going on. And they cleared us. They told us to go clean it up and just go home. So they really had no issues,” said Waters.

Waters said the next morning at school was a different story.

“We all had to sit out in the lobby by ourselves, and they pulled us all back individually,” said Waters. “We went back into principal’s office. There were four adults for one of us. And they just asked us all questions. They asked us all different questions. They told us all of our stories better match.”

The students and their parents said there have been similar pranks in the past without similar consequences, but Superintendent Ken Crawford disagrees.

“I feel like we’ve set precedent in the past. And being consistent, I think, is what people appreciate,” said Crawford.

”They are good kids. And I have said that over and over,” he added. “This isn’t about—we have good kids here. And I believe we have good kids. Occasionally, some some things go sideways.“

Crawford emphasized consistency in discipling the kids’ actions, no matter their record, and even if Homecoming happened to fall during the 30-day ban. He said the other priority was safety.

”We can’t have something happen to kids on school grounds that we don’t know about or aren’t watching, because today’s day and age is not good for that. It’s a different day and age. And that’s the hard thing,” said Crawford.