Pell City attorney Lance Bell said motions were filed on behalf of Alexander Hopson, Andrew Feenker, Samuel McCloud and Haley White requesting a hearing “to determine the selective prosecution of this defendant as opposed to other students and teachers whose acts have been excused and ignored before Thursday, May 24, 2012, (the graduation date).”
The motion states that as a condition of bond requested by the leadership of the Pell City School System, the defendants are not allowed to be on any School System property.
“It doesn’t prevent them from graduating if they have completed the work, but one of the bond conditions set by St. Clair County District Court Judge Alan Furr is that they are not to be on any school property,” District Attorney Richard Minor said.
He said all eight students are set to appear before Furr at 9 a.m. July 10 at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Pell City. All of the students are out on bond.
“And as with any adult felony charge, they must report to St. Clair County Community Corrections for drug testing,” Minor said.
The motions further state that the Pell City School System has allowed other acts and crimes committed by students and teachers to occur within the School System and directly acted in a manner to conceal those acts.
“This same School System is selectively prosecuting these individuals after allowing these other acts to go unreported to law enforcement, and even going to great extremes to cover up said acts committed by students and a teacher. Numerous acts have never been reported to law enforcement, and were even excused by the leadership at Pell City High School. Leadership has determined which acts to pursue criminally and which to excuse and hidden these decisions from the system board and law enforcement.”
The motions state the School System is allowing other individuals to participate in graduation when they have committed acts that are in violation of school policy and the criminal laws of the state of Alabama, and that the defendants have been treated unfairly as compared to others similarly situated.
Authorities said eight students were arrested after allegedly vandalizing the high school Wednesday night, including seven adults and one 17-year-old juvenile.
“Although there have been no additional arrests, the incident is still under investigation and there is the potential for more arrests,” Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley said Friday afternoon.
Turley said the students forced open a door to enter the school. The students allegedly threw and smeared produce on the school walls and discharged several fire extinguishers.
Police public information officer Sgt. Don Newton said Samuel McCloud, 18, Alexander Hopson, 19, Jonathan Grimes Jr., 18, Haley White, 18, Desmond Dawkins, 19, Jarrod Chatman, 18, Devon Jones, 18, and the juvenile are all charged with first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree burglary, both Class C felonies.
Turley said another vandalism incident occurred Monday when someone made entry and left crickets in the high school.
“No police report was filed at the time until after the Wednesday incident,” he said. “Andrew Feenker was arrested in relation to the Monday incident.”
It was not known Friday if any other students were charged regarding the Monday incident.
Assistant Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Barber said the School System is cooperating with the police investigation.
“School opened on schedule Friday, and there is some cleanup left, which will happen over the weekend,” he said.
Barber said the School System does not wish to comment on any disciplinary action regarding the students involved with the vandalism, and had no comment regarding the motions filed.
Contact Elsie Hodnett at email@example.com.