Teaneck School Head: Class Prank Overblown
Sixty-two Teaneck High School seniors are facing the fallout from their “prank” inside the school that includes loss of privileges and scholarships.
Late Friday, however, Teaneck Superintendent Barbara Pinsak issued a statement saying janitors cleaning the school found no evidence to back up initial police reports students had urinated in the hallways.
Pinsak said there was no damage to school property and the cleanup consisted of removing petroleum jelly from doorknobs, sweeping floors of debris and removing graffiti. She says the district doesn’t condone the students’ behavior but exaggerated reports of mayhem “misrepresent” their school and community.
Teaneck police haven’t responded to Pinsak’s comments and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office was still deciding on the final charges for the 24 adults and 39 juveniles that broke into the school early Thursday morning, according to NJ.com, and made a mess with graffiti, breaking chairs, smearing petroleum jelly, urinating on the floor and hanging streamers and balloons all over the building.
More than half of the adults are varsity athletes and are all currently charged with burglary and criminal mischief. Teaneck High School Dennis Heck tells The Record that the prank could have “dire effects” for those already accepted into a college.
Heck wrote in a message to parents that he was was “deeply hurt and disappointed to see how our ‘home away from home’ had been treated.” Some students said they saw Heck tear up as students were led away in plastic handcuffs.
No decision has been made by the school about disciplinary action including the cancellation of the prom and graduation.
“The District continues to assess the situation and is considering the consequences it will impose on the students implicated,” wrote Superintendent Barbara Pinsak.
Some students are hoping the release of security surveillance video may show the extent of their involvement.
“We’re trying to get the tape from the school so we can track ourselves throughout the process and show that we didn’t break anything,” Joan Louis told NJ.com. “We were just doing a prank.”
School Board President Ardie Walser told the Record that discipline may be handed out individually.
“We’ll seek to make this a teachable moment,” Walser told the newspaper. “My understanding is that many of them were good students, but they made a very, very bad choice.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.