Students plead in school prank gone wrong

July 18, 2011 3:45:39 PM PDT
A senior prank crossed the line, and now nearly a dozen recent high school graduates will be returning to school as part of an unusual punishment, meant to send a message.

We first told you about the charges against the students back in May as they faced potential jail time for breaking into the school. Now instead of jail time, they've been sentenced to public embarrassment.

Eleven of the 16 people accused in the Clements High School break-in on May 13 have pled no contest to the charges, and their punishment, while unusual, is intended to let what the Fort Bend district attorney calls "good kids" get on with their lives.

What began as a senior prank at Clements High School in Sugar Land back on May 13 turned into 11 no contest pleas at the new Fort Bend County Criminal Justice Center on Friday. They'll pay restitution and court costs, and they'll serve an unusual kind of community service in a couple of two-hour shifts.

"In two, two-hour stints, walk in front of the school as testimony to what they did and as a sign to the public that this was a crime and not a prank," Fort Bend County District Attorney John Healey said.

And that's exactly what the signs will say -- "What I did was a crime and not a prank."

Back in mid-May, Sugar Land police arrived to Clements after midnight to find people running from the school and a back door pried open. Nothing was taken. A mother of one of the suspects told us then that the group of boys had intended to put chairs and desks on the roof of the school.

What they got instead were criminal charges, and now, they get an unusual, sign-holding punishment.

But the district attorney says the point was to punish and let them move on with their lives.

"They were generally good kids who exercised very bad judgment here," Healey said.

We tracked down some of the kids at home. One told us he's headed to college in the fall and just wants to put this behind him.

"Yeah I just want to be done," the student said. "I go off in August to Tech."

We called the probation department to find out when the kids are required to hold the signs in front of Clements, but have not heard back.

The district attorney has made plea offers to the five remaining suspects in the Clements High School break-in. He would not give us the details of those offers, however he did say he wants this to be a teachable moment for not only the 16 involved, but for next year's seniors, too.

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