HENRICO COUNTY, Va. – More than 1,000 people have signed a petition urging Henrico Schools and Henrico Police to drop felony charges against a group of students arrested after pulling a senior prank at their high school.
“Senior pranks are a common rite of passage in schools across America. Typically, students who engage in them are asked to make amends by cleaning up their messes, or they may lose the privilege of enjoying senior perks like going on a fun trip,” online petition author Sabrina Stevens wrote. “Yet this week, almost a dozen Black students in Henrico County, Virginia were charged with felonies, just for writing words in chocolate syrup and smearing other foods on their high school at the end of May.”
Stevens, who called her a Washington DC-based education activist, said she created the petition as a sign of solidarity and wanted to show officials people are watching their actions.
She questioned why the Varina High School students were charged with felonies despite the fact the mess was cleaned up “fairly quickly.”
“Students with felony records may have trouble getting financial aid for college, or finding gainful employment. That’s a pretty high price to pay for chocolate syrup!” she wrote.
“Chocolate sauce, syrup, rice, flour, and eggs were thrown onto numerous exterior areas of the school,” Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks said shortly after the arrests. “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.”
Varina High school is scheduled to hold graduation ceremonies Thursday, June 12.
“Students involved face severe disciplinary actions including the potential loss of participating in graduation ceremonies,” Jenks said following the arrests.
The students were charged with felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespassing. Most of them have preliminary hearing scheduled for July 31.
CBS 6 News will reach out to Henrico Schools and Henrico Police for comment about the petition.