Two Students Arrested in EPHS Vandalism Case

The two face felony charges in connection with the early Monday spray-painting of East Paulding High.

school resource officers about 2 p.m. Tuesday arrested two 16-year-old boys in connection with the Monday morning vandalism of .

As the two are juveniles, authorities did not release their mugshots nor their names, but according to a sheriff’s office press release, both were East Paulding students who had been suspended from the school earlier in the year and were not allowed on school property. Both were students in the Ombudsman program, the alternative school program used by the school district.

The two each face a charge of criminal interference with government property, a felony under Georgia Code 16-7-24. The two also face two misdemeanors—curfew violation, as both are under 18 and were out of their homes after midnight without their parents’ permission; and criminal trespass because they were not allowed on school property.

The vandalism of the school happened about 1:46 a.m. Monday. Those involved 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, just smoke weed.”

“This type of reckless behavior will not be tolerated in Paulding County Schools. We will investigate and arrest anyone that defaces school property,” Sheriff Gary Gulledge said in Tuesday’s release.

Authorities say one of the teens confessed to his involvement in the incident, while the other denied any involvement.

One boy was released into his parents’ custody while the other was detained at the Paulding Regional Youth Detention Center. The latter was detained, authorities said, because he had accumulated so many “points” in the Department of Juvenile Justice system from previous incidents; the other was not detained as he did not as many “points” accumulated.

Both teens will appear in Paulding County Juvenile Court within the next few days for their first appearance.

At the school level, the two could be found to have committed what officials deem 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.

"The investigation is complete unless any new information comes forward," Associate Superintendent Brian Otott said. "The school district will now utilize our student code of conduct to determine any consequences for those involved." 

District officials following did not reveal how the students found to be involved in the incident were punished, saying that

The punishment given out by Paulding County District Attorney Dick Donovan, however, was made public. In all, 24 teens were arrested following the March incident and ultimately accepted Donovan’s deal to enter a pre-trial diversion program in lieu of facing prosecution on the felony charges of criminal interference with government property. The terms of the deal have the teens performing 400 hours of community service and $720 in fees.

Return to Dallas-Hiram Patch for updates on the latest vandalism case.

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