Suspended high school pranksters allowed to take final exams


The students won't be able to attend the graduation ceremonies and were left out of Thursday afternoon's graduation rehearsal. Beyond that and more importantly, for many of these students, it will be up to individual teachers and perhaps a judge to decide if they can make up all the final exams.

Heritage High School's Andrea Martin is one of the latest students suspended over a senior prank that has turned the final week of school into a nightmare for many. While most students rehearsed their graduation in the school gym, Martin stayed home. "I'm not going to complain about it. I just regret the whole situation and I'm sorry to all my teachers that I lied to and to my parents for disappointing them," she said.

Martin was able to take most of her finals. She's among at least 50 seniors who may or may not get to make up all of them, which could affect their graduation and entrance to college.

Principal Larry Oshodi refused to be interviewed by ABC7 News, but District Superintendent Eric Volta said Wednesday, "It's always been up to the teachers' discretion as to whether or not they would ask the student to make up their work." What is certain is that none of the suspended students will be allowed to participate in Saturday's graduation ceremony.

"This is a really tight knit family community and all these kids wanted to enjoy the day together. So, they're just outcasts, so to speak. And, most of them are 4.0 students," said one parent whose daughter is among those who may miss out on the rite of passage.

One graduating senior told ABC7 News that many students feel the punishment doled out to the pranksters is fair. "In the student handbook, it says if you vandalize the school campus, suspension for three to five days. Unfortunately, they picked a really bad time to do it. If they had done it a few months ago or a few weeks ago there wouldn't have been this uproar about getting suspended," he said.

Asked what she is going to take away from this experience, Marin said, "If I ever have kids, they are not going to be in the senior prank. I think the lesson's learned."

The official last day of school was Thursday, but some parents said their kids are being allowed to return Friday to finish up final exams, if their teachers allow it. Either way, their final grades will be held up until at least next Thursday when a Martinez judge holds a hearing on whether the students' due process rights were violated.

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