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More than 40 students suspended after Mehlville's 'senior prank day'

More than 40 students at Mehlville Senior High School recently were suspended for allegedly trespassing on school property and causing damage to district property during a "senior prank night," according to Superintendent Tim Ricker.

On the night of Nov. 20, St. Louis County Police Department officers caught about 47 students on both the Mehlville and Oakville senior high school campuses between 10:30 p.m. and 4 a.m., Ricker said.

Officers are investigating students for trespassing, disorderly conduct and willful destruction of property, which amounted to more than $8,300 in damages and cleanup labor, the superintendent said.

After further investigation, Ricker said officers discovered students inside Mehlville Senior High School and also inside the football field's tower where they found students had broken speakers in the tower, broken two sheets of Plexiglas in the tower, set two Johnny on the Spots on fire, discharged fire extinguishers, spray painted walls and windows and damaged a $3,000 football sideline runner.

Students also pulled a fire alarm inside the building, Ricker said, and the Mehlville Fire Protection District responded. Pulling a fire alarm is considered an unlawful act and a form of burglary and those students will be charged accordingly, he said.

Suspensions did not begin until last week because of the number of students under investigation and the timing of the Thanksgiving holiday.

"The degradation of discipline was based on information obtained through the police department at Mehlville," Ricker said.

Students who admitted they were on campus property after hours were given three-day suspensions, while students who admitted or were implicated that they were inside Mehlville Senior High after hours or inside the football tower were given 10-day suspensions and will not return to school until after the winter holiday.

Students who were suspended for 10 days will meet with Deputy Superintendent Jane Reed during private hearings in January to collect more information and to discuss additional discipline.

Ricker said the pranks caused extensive damage, but he did not believe it was the most serious "senior prank day" the high school had experienced, noting a previous senior class had chopped down district trees that were part of an endangered species.

"But it's not normal to have this kind of damage to be done in this nature," he said. "There was extensive damage, but I doubt it was the highest amount of damage."

No damage occurred at Oakville Senior High School, but students were found and ticketed for trespassing on the property after the building was closed.

"This behavior was completely inappropriate," Ricker said.

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