District officials: Prank proactive, but some seniors took it too far
By RACHAEL GRAY
USD 457 officials say they support Garden City High School Principal James Mireles' attempt to be proactive in allowing a supervised senior prank at the high school, but agree that some seniors took it a little too far.
On the night of March 24, Mireles let about 50 to 100 seniors into the school to pull a supervised prank.
Mireles said seniors approached him about pulling a prank and that he ultimately decided to allow it — under his supervision and within parameters — because he thought it would cause less damage and consequence than an unsupervised one.
The prank included streamers, newspapers, Silly String and posters in the commons area of the school, all of which fell within the parameters. But there also were reports of Vaseline on handrails and a condom was found on the buffalo near the commons area.
Mireles has maintained there was no damage done to the school and that a group of seniors cleaned it up the following morning after the rest of the student body and GCHS faculty saw it upon returning to school after spring break.
Atha and board members agree that Mireles was being proactive in letting the students pull the prank, although they also believe some students took it too far.
"I think a very high percentage of the seniors followed his guidelines. There was a small number that went and did some things beyond the parameters," said Atha, who said he received a phone call from Mireles at about 8 p.m. on the night of the prank — while it was in progress — notifying him of the prank.
Tom Blackburn, school board vice president, said he had only heard what had been written in The Telegram.
"That was about it. James was being proactive, and the kids came to him. I was impressed by that," he said.
Mark Wallace, board member, agreed
Gloria Hopkins, board member, said she symphathized with Mireles' position.
"I heard about it (last) Monday because I have two students in the high school. And it was from their perspective that it would have been way worse, most likely, if Mireles hadn't volunteered. I do think it went a little too far. I do think there were some outlying students who just took it too far," Hopkins said. "I feel bad for Mr. Mireles in that no good deed goes unpunished. I think he meant well, but he probably wished he wouldn't have done it. But I think it was a learning experience."
Atha and Mireles maintain there was no damage to the school.
"And a group of kids came and cleaned it up. I monitored that," Atha said.
Atha said Mireles understands that seniors pull pranks.
"I think (Mireles) was being proactive and looking to prevent damage from happening at the new school. He has a history of understanding what pranks have been pulled in the past," Atha said.
Atha said the district wouldn't support an event that resulted in damage.
"As a district, in no way do we condone vandalism to our schools, gang graffiti or destruction. I think our past behavior as an administrative team, superintendent and Board of Education confirms that," he said.
Atha said he does think Mireles will be reflective about the decision he made.
"I think he and his administration will be looking for other alternatives to work with seniors. I tend to think it meant a lot to him that seniors came to him. Normally, it's something done behind the scenes — something we may have had to come and sandblast off of the school," he said.
Mireles said he had no comment on whether he regretted letting the students do the prank.
"We're just moving on and ready for it to be done," he said.