Seniors at two high schools in Alabama swapped schools for a day as a prank and were suspended by their administrators — a punishment they now say is too harsh , according to local media reports.
More than a dozen seniors from Chilton County High School, in Clanton, and Jemison High School, in Jemison, attended classes at the opposite school’s campus on Monday, April 11, according to Al.com. The schools are located about 15 miles from one another, about 50 miles south of Birmingham.
The students managed to attend half a day’s worth of classes before they were found out by school officials, according to AL.com. The prank, which students planned on Snapchat, resulted in three-day suspensions for multiple seniors, according to WVTM.
“My scholarships are in jeopardy because of this,” Jemison High School senior Haileigh Greer told WBRC.
She also told the outlet that she had been kicked off the school softball team.
“I don’t mind the three day suspension. I understand,” Greer told WBRC. “But we shouldn’t have got kicked off the teams. I mean I have played softball since I was 8 and I got kicked off my senior year.”
Neither the Chilton County Schools Board of Education nor the superintendent responded to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
In a statement sent to WVTM13, superintendent Jason Griffin said “Chilton County schools follows law, policy and procedure in all aspects of day to day operations.”
According to AL.com, Chilton County’s code of conduct largely leaves punishment decisions up to administrators, with pranks usually considered minor infractions but going to other campuses without permission being more serious.
The community’s reaction to the punishment was swift.
A Change.org petition, which asks to stop the punishments for what it calls a “harmless” prank, was started on April 13 and has been signed by nearly 13,000 people as of the following afternoon.
Aaron Ellison, who identified himself as a Jemison High School alum on Facebook, wrote in a post that he supported the students.
“I want to commend the 2022 senior classes from both schools for coming up with a prank that did not involve the destruction of property, the defacing of school property, did not cause any harm to anyone, and under any normal conditions would have been a laughable deed,” he wrote. “What this prank did do was expose security issues at both campuses. Is this the fault of the students? I think not!”
Some local businesses also posted their support for students, including one with a discount themed for the class of 2022.
“Hey Seniors, found yourself with an unexpected vacation from school this week?” Trendy Chic Boutique in Clanton, posted on Facebook. “Come shop with us and receive 22% off your purchase.”