For the 17 East Paulding High students arrested so far in connection with the early Sunday vandalism of the school, the school-level punishments for those ultimately found to be responsible have yet to be determined—but they could be severe.
Nineteen teens—ranging in age from 17 to 19—have been charged with felony criminal interference with government property. Of the 19 arrested, 17 were current East Paulding High students while the other two were former students, according to Paulding County Schools Associate Superintendent Brian Otott.
The teens still attending the school potentially face both criminal and school-level punishments. Otott said the vandalism would be classified by the district as a “Level One” offense as spelled out in Board Policy JD, which covers student discipline. Such offenses are defined in the policy as “those that significantly threaten the safety of students and staff, significantly disrupt the orderly school environment, and/or may result in injury or significant loss of property.”
Under the policy, possible punishments for a Level One offense include placement in in-school suspension for 10 days or less, out-of-school suspension for 10 days or less, or referral to a disciplinary tribunal for a long-term suspension or expulsion from school.
How do you think the students involved in the vandalism should be punished?
But Otott says officials have not determined how the students will be punished, or if all involved with face the same punishment.
“At this point, I think the investigation’s still too fresh to really say that we would blanket everybody with one punishment. The investigation’s not been concluded—not all of the students have been interviewed yet, so it’s premature to make a statement of that nature,” he said. “A lot of it is going to be contingent on when that investigation is complete.”
The investigation continues, and district officials believe more individuals are involved.
“The investigation’s not complete, but it does appear that there are going to be more than the 19 that were arrested early Sunday,” Otott said. “At this point, (the others involved) seem to have a connection to the school.”
District officials as of Monday afternoon had not been able to determine the true cost of the damage caused by those involved. Those involved in the incident spray-painted “Senior” and “2012” across the school’s campus—including the guard shack, two county vehicles and the roadway—and the subdivision across the street.
“A lot of (our costs) will be the man-hours that were required to remove the vandalism and some other associated costs of cleaning materials and equipment,” Otott said.