Black Teens Face Criminal Charges for Senior Prank

The Henrico School District has a history of disproportionately punishing Black students.

Posted: 06/10/2014 04:02 PM EDT

A messy senior prank has led to the arrest of nearly a dozen students at one Virginia high school.

Eighteen-year-old suspects Tiffany D. Birchett, Quniton E. Burt, Khadijah M. Ford, Dekell M. Lawrence, Khalil J. Randall, Donte W. Robertson, Aja D. Tart  and Justin Diggs — all of whom were charged as adults in the incident — now face felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespassing charges for the damage done earlier this month. Three 17-year-olds were charged as juveniles, while another suspect has yet to be charged.

“Chocolate sauce, syrup, rice, flour and eggs were thrown onto numerous exterior areas of the school,” said Henrico School District spokesman Andy Jenks. “In addition, trash cans were dumped and placed on the roofs of several buildings and permanent marker was used to write on doors and walls. Most of the damage was cleaned up quickly that morning.”

Jenks also added that the students face severe disciplinary actions, including the potential loss of participating in graduation ceremonies. A preliminary hearing is set for seven of the suspects on July 31.

Ravelle Worthington of EBONY.com pointed out that while a number of the suspects and their parents were shocked by the severity of the charges, disproportionate punishment is nothing new for the Henrico school district.

A national report released in 2012 found that the Virginia county had the largest disparity between suspension of Black and white students of any school division in the state, as well as the highest in the country for suspensions involving Black students with disabilities. Overall, though only 37 percent of the county’s students are Black, Black students account for 75 percent of suspensions.

In response to what some have deemed the “criminalizing” of students of color, a petition asking Henrico County to drop the felony charges against the Varina High School students has also been launched.

"Enough is enough,” reads the petition. "Let's make sure that public officials in Henrico County and nationwide know that we will no longer tolerate racial bias in student discipline.”

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(Photo: CBS News6)

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