Vandals to finish fall semester at alternative school'
By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Oct. 30, 2002
The parents of eight Northeast Lauderdale High School seniors charged with felony vandalism pleaded with the school board Tuesday to allow their sons to finish the year with their classmates.
The school board compromised.
The teen-agers will have to attend Bonita Educational Center, an "alternative school," for the rest of the semester. If they behave, they can return to regular classes.
School Superintendent David Little said today that the students and their parents will have to sign a contract spelling out specific behavioral conduct and community service requirements.
Parents make emotional plea
A parent group led by NAACP President Obie Clark appealed to the school board to reverse the recommendation of Rob Calcote, Northeast High School principal, to transfer the students to the Bonita Educational Center permanently.
Last week, Calcote recommended that the students all of whom confessed to being involved in a vandalism spree Oct. 2 at West Lauderdale and Southeast Lauderdale be transferred to the alternative school to finish off their senior year.
Clark said the parents feel the school's punishment is too severe and that Calcote failed to identify any school policy the "children" violated.
Eight of the students are 18 years old. They have been charged with felonies and face possible indictment in November by a Lauderdale County grand jury.
Four others were involved. They are 17 years old, and have pleaded guilty in Lauderdale County Youth Court to malicious mischief, a misdemeanor charge. Because of this, they are not subject to discipline handed down by the school board.
The vandalism spree resulted in more than $15,000 in damages broken windows, spattered paint, ruined carpets and smashed computers.
Sheriff's investigators said the students started their destructive spree at Meridian High School, then moved on to Southeast Lauderdale, and eventually, to West Lauderdale High School where the most damage, more than $8,000, was done.
Whether the crime happened on Calcote's watch doesn't matter, said John Compton, the school board's attorney. Compton said breaking or entering at any school in the system violates the district's code of conduct.