According to a release from the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, about 1:46 a.m. Monday, individuals got onto school property and spray-painted exterior parts of the school, including the auxiliary gym, two hallways, walls of the school and some sidewalks. Messages spray-painted on about 20 areas of the school included “Class of 2015,” “Illuminati,” and “Don’t do drugs, smoke weed.”
No damage to the interior of the school was reported. District officials report a clean-up estimate of $1,000 to $1,200.
Those involved in the incident could face charges of criminal interference with government property, a felony under Georgia Code 16-7-24.
Sheriff’s office investigators are working with school district officials to find those responsible for the incident. Authorities have not released any information regarding surveillance video that captured the incident, but encourage anyone that may have information on the crime to contact the PCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division at 770-443-3015.
Teens punished after March incident
This isn’t the first time this year the school has been the target of vandalism. A March 11 incident saw school buildings spray-painted to include windows; some perpetrators also made it onto the school’s roof, which was also painted. Some of the things written in spray paint were “Senior,” “2012” and “YOLO.”
Two vehicles also were spray-painted, as were the guardhouse, fences, signs, a scoreboard and the school’s pirate ship. Vandals also threw chairs, tables and benches into the school’s parking lot.
In all, school district officials said clean-up of the damage to East Paulding High was estimated at $7,500.
Twenty-four teens who were arrested in connection with that vandalism of the school and surrounding areas all chose to accept the deal Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan offered them on April 13—enter a pre-trial diversion program in lieu of facing prosecution on charges of criminal interference with government property, a felony under Georgia Code 16-7-24.
The major requirements of the pre-trial diversion program has participants each performing 400 hours of community service at places approved by the pre-trial diversion supervisors, Supervision Services Inc. Each teen also was required to pay $720 in fees—a $300 administration fee to the county and $420 to cover 12 months of pre-trial diversion expenses.
Those who ultimately complete the program within 12 months will not have a felony on their record for the crime of criminal interference with government property; they will, however, still have an arrest record to their name. Should anyone break the terms of the agreement, they would likely face prosecution from Donovan’s office. Conviction of a criminal interference with government property charge carries a sentence of imprisonment for one to five years.
Graduation honors nearly revoked
One of the 24 teens who had been arrested in connection with the March incident was Jake Zimmerman, who was ultimately named East Paulding’s valedictorian for the class of 2012. After he and his family appealed the punishment levied on him by the school district, which they say included 10 days of out-of-school suspension followed by long-term suspension for the remainder of the school year, the Paulding County School Board at its April 10 meeting answered the appeal by levying against him an additional stipulation— a ban from extracurricular activities, including graduation.
But a judge overruled the school board’s stipulation via a preliminary injunction, giving Zimmerman the green light to walk at graduation. Zimmerman participated in commencement exercises but was not allowed to give a valedictorian speech.
The school district never officially released details on the punishments levied against Zimmerman and his peers, saying that privacy laws prevent the district from revealing how many students were punished, what punishments they received or whether students’ punishments differed.
Return to Dallas-Hiram Patch for updates regarding the latest vandalism case.
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