MADISONVILLE (WATE) – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said they have terminated a Sequoyah High School resource officer for official misconduct after severe vandalism. The students involved will not be allowed to attend graduation activities.
Sheriff Tommy Jones posted to Facebook that Deputy James Fisher was terminated for giving a false report about what happened. Security video shows Fisher opening up the school and helping students carry items in, and later leaving while the students were still in the building.
The video then shows Fisher returning after receiving a call that the prank had gotten out of hand.
Monroe County Director of Schools Tim Blankenship said that several members of Sequoyah High School’s senior class chose to participate in a senior prank which caused severe vandalism to the hallways, bathrooms and some of the classrooms of the schools.
School had to be delayed Thursday morning while crews cleaned up the mess.
“Dead opossums, chickens crickets, fish in the commodes, rocks in the sink, hay, trash, alarm clocks in the ceiling with screwdrivers tied to it, using chalk on the wall, lockers, shaving cream on computers. Just a lot of vandalism. Something that started out innocent it turned into just vandalism,” said parent Donna Stewart.
In a statement, Blankenship says the initial response was to postpone the Senior Drive-Thru event scheduled to be held at the school Friday and to tell the seniors involved they needed to complete a half day of community service.
However, after Blankenship and Principal Gary Cole looked at the recording of the incident again, they decided because the damage was so extensive and could have caused harm to students and teachers the next day to rescind the option of community service and have barred all seniors who took part from taking part in any graduation activities.
That includes Scholarship Night, Class Night and graduation. Those seniors may pick up their diplomas at Sequoyah High School on Monday, May 18, during school hours.
“I am deeply saddened that something like this happened,” Sheriff Jones issued in a statement.
Some of the students involved told WATE 6 On Your Side they plan on coming back next week to help clean up.
Three teachers have filed worker’s comp claims as a result of the vandalism. Sheriff Jones says there were other officers on duty at the school, but they do not work for the sheriff’s office. He says he notified their chief and passed on the findings of his investigation.
Students Randy Collins and Cody Benge have set up a Gofundme account in an effort to raise money to repair the school and replace personal belongings of one of their teachers. Click here to donate.
“Theres a couple of kids that I’ve seen posting on social media saying,’ We did such a good job,’ and ‘Wow, they’re proud of us.’ And we’re like, dude, this isn’t something to be proud of. This is vandalism. I mean it’s not right. It’s not cool. ”
The seniors say the vandalism also ruined personal property of a teacher, including a special vintage poster.
“His first year there his student gave it to him. I think it’s been there about 18 years. I think it was a Darth Vader. It just meant so much to him,” said Benge.