ROCKLAND (AP) – Eleven seniors at Rockland District High School can avoid criminal prosecution for vandalizing the school on the eve of graduation by paying restitution and performing community service.

If the students comply and a District Court judge agrees that the students have fulfilled their obligations, pending misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and criminal mischief will be dismissed when the students appear in court.

Two students who discharged fire extinguishers inside the school during the early morning hours of June 10 will be asked to pay $600 restitution to the school district and perform 30 hours of community service, Superintendent of Schools Donald Kanicki said Monday.

Nine other students are being asked to pay $400 restitution and perform 20 hours of service.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau indicated he would support dismissal of the charges as long as each student fulfilled his or her obligation.

The 11 students brought shaving cream, confetti, string and chalk when they entered the high school sometime after midnight on June 9, authorities said. The students said their plan to pull a harmless graduation eve prank went awry when two students ended up spraying fire extinguishers in most parts of the school.

School was canceled on graduation day while volunteers cleaned up the mess left by the fire extinguishers. Police were able to identify 23 students who either went into the school or stood outside while the prank took place. The 23 students did not receive their diplomas until Friday. Some were banned from walking in the graduation procession Tuesday night.

Only the 11 who went into the building face criminal charges.

“We wanted to differentiate between those students that really got carried away and those who did not,” said School Board chairwoman Mary Ellen Wilson.

She said the restitution the students must pay will cover the $8,000 cost to the district of canceling classes and cleaning up the mess.

AP-ES-06-17-03 0216EDT



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