Prank trashed NC high school — and principal gave students the keys, officials say
Two school board members say they are outraged that the principal at a North Carolina high school gave students the keys to the building for a senior prank that trashed the school and left teachers in tears.
The principal thought a few kids were going to “prank” the school by hanging streamers and balloons, but it soon grew out of hand, school board members say.
The incident — at Burns High in Lawndale, in Cleveland County — is the latest in end-of-year or “senior pranks” disturbing schools and in some cases, involving police.
At Burns High, teachers’ personal items were taken from their desks and scattered about their rooms late Thursday, board member Ronnie Grigg told The Charlotte Observer. Desks were removed from classrooms and piled onto each other, he said, and everything from plants to microwaves ended up in toilets.
Globs of Vaseline covered door handles throughout the building, and baby oil slickened floors, Grigg and board member Danny Blanton said.
Two videos from that night obtained by Grigg show students walking amid trashed rooms and hallways. The videos show considerably more than just a handful of students in the building, he said.
“The security was breached,” Grigg said. “Kids were in offices they never should have been in. I have been fighting hard for safety, and then this happens.”
“When I first saw that, I was very upset,” Blanton told the Observer. “That should not have happened, especially a principal giving kids authorization and then not being there supervising that. She should have been there to stop that.”
Students spent a couple of hours in the building, Blanton said.
It wasn’t a “little prank” the students pulled off, but destruction, he said.
Blanton said he learned Jennifer Aberly gave students keys to the building in an email Superintendent Stephen Fisher sent to board members. Fisher’s email also recounted how Aberly said she was up most of the night cleaning up the school.
“But there was still a lot to be done when the custodians and teachers got to work,” Blanton said.
And teachers were crying, Grigg said.
Both Grigg and Blanton said they received texts from upset teachers.
Aberly didn’t reply to an email from the Observer Saturday. Superintendent Fisher, school board Chairman Robert Queen and other board members didn’t reply to requests for comment from the Observer Tuesday except for member Walter Spurling, who referred questions to Queen.
The school board held a closed session Monday night regarding the prank, but Grigg and Blanton said they weren’t at liberty to say what transpired.
No one reported the incident to the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, sheriff’s Capt. Jody Seagle said. Regarding criminal activity at the school that night, he said, “from our standpoint, that has been strongly rumor-based.”