Students arrested on day of pranks at Williams Field High School - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Students arrested on day of pranks at Williams Field High School

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Posted: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:20 pm

Two 16-year-old Williams Field High School students have been arrested in connection to a prank that caused $170,000 in damage to the Gilbert campus, according to police.

The boys were arrested May 21 on suspicion of aggravated criminal damage and interfering with an educational institution. No charges have been filed against either student as of Tuesday, according to the Maricopa County Juvenile Court clerk.

On the last Friday of classes, just a few days prior to graduation, the two students damaged a sprinkler head that flooded the top floor of the school's only two-story building, according to police.

On that same day, there was a food fight in the Williams Field cafeteria and a shaving cream fight in the school's courtyard. The incidents led to the Higley Unified School District decision to install video surveillance cameras at both its high schools this summer.

The district is now in the process of replacing carpet in nine classrooms and replacing damaged drywall, baseboards and floor tiles in several areas of that building, said Anthony Malaj, director of educational support and community partnerships. The water also damaged electrical lines, lights and smoke detectors that are being repaired or replaced, he said.

The district's insurance company is covering the $169,328.12 cost, as well as overtime associated with the repairs. The company may then seek litigation against anyone accused of causing the damage, Malaj said.

"Our insurance company pays the claim. At that point the insurance company works out how they get remunerated on the costs," he said. "It's out of our hands. We let our insurance company deal with it."

According to the police report, one of the boys admitted to an officer several days later that he stood on several textbooks to use a lighter to trigger the fire sprinkerhead. He claimed the second boy was on lookout, according to the report. The first boy told police he thought, "this would be funny, me not thinking that it would like ruin the whole school." He told police he believed someone would be able to pull a lever to stop the water.

The second boy's family has retained an attorney, according to the report, and the boy did not participate in a follow-up interview.

Police interviewed about a dozen witnesses, adults and students. Some said they saw the boys near the area of the sprinkler, based on the report.

Because of their ages, the Tribune is not naming the boys.

The entire campus was evacuated as a result of the fire alarm system going off during classes, which led police to recommend the charge of interfering with an educational institution, as well as the aggravated criminal damage charge.

The students may face punishment from the school district as well.

"There are some administrative due process hearings that will take place with the two students," Malaj said. "Everybody is allowed due process. These students will be afforded the same thing."

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