Prosecutors decide if Southridge senior pranksters will be charged with a crime

County and city prosecutors reviewed possible charges against 20 adults and teens from Southridge High accused in a senior prank at Kennewick High.
County and city prosecutors reviewed possible charges against 20 adults and teens from Southridge High accused in a senior prank at Kennewick High. Tri-City Herald

Prosecutors have opted not to file criminal charges against 20 students accused of breaking into a rival high school to commit a “senior prank.”

The decisions not to pursue the issue come after both Kennewick school officials and Kennewick police recommended no charges for the Southridge High School students.

Both Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller and Kennewick’s Assistant City Attorney Jessica M. Foltz told the Tri-City Herald they declined to file after talking with all parties.

Miller’s office received referrals on seven juveniles under age 18, and the City Attorney’s Office received 13 adult cases to screen.

The students allegedly went to Kennewick High School the evening of June 5 to prank their rivals.

Mess discovered next day

Some of the teens went in through an unlocked door in the Lion’s Den, the high school gymnasium, and vandalized part of the building, according to police.

Original reports were that the students grabbed papers and other items found inside the room and tossed them around. Other sources have told the Herald that syrup and cereal were spread on a floor and left to harden.

School officials discovered the mess the following morning and, with the help of surveillance video, tracked down the involved students.

All of the students were emergency expelled from classes.

There was no lasting damage, but police initially said the teens could be charged with criminal trespassing and malicious mischief, both misdemeanors. A public records request for the police reports on the damage are not expected to be released until July, said police officials.

No permanent damage

The Kennewick School Board held an emergency meeting June 7 to decide whether the participating seniors should be banned from Southridge graduation ceremonies. The board’s sessions with the students were closed to the public because they involved discipline.

School district officials would not confirm the results of the meeting, but the Herald has been told the seniors were allowed to participate and collect their diplomas.

It is not known If any disciplinary action was taken.

Miller told the Herald that the Kennewick School District asked, “based on their disciplinary action, that no charges be filed.”

That request came after the district confirmed there was no permanent damage.

“The recommendations by the Kennewick School District and the Kennewick Police Department made sense to us, and so we are following them by not taking action,” he said.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.