No charges filed against Sequoyah High School Principal after senior prank

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MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- No charges were filed against former Sequoyah High School Principal Gary Cole.

Cole was suspended after an investigation into his role in the prank gone overboard, but the Monroe County District Attorney's Office said Cole was never found of any wrong doing.

Cole had been Principal since July of 2013, before that he was a history teacher at the school for 12 years.

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Monroe County Sheriff Tommy Jones released a statement saying he fired School Resource Officer James Fisher for his involvement with a high school prank.

The firing comes two days after seniors at Sequoyah High School pulled a senior prank that many are saying went too far and did too much damage.

The full statement from Sheriff Jones reads;

"I am sorry to announce that I had to terminate Deputy James Fisher who has served in the capacity of SRO at Sequoyah High School for Official Misconduct. When the incident was first reported Deputy Fisher gave Director Tim Blankenship and myself a false report about what happened. We reviewed the schools security video and when I spoke Deputy Fisher a second time he admitted to the false statement. The school has had three teachers file workman's comp claims from this incident. The video shows him opening up the school helping the students carry items in and later leaving while the kids were still in the building. He then returns after receiving a call that the prank has gotten out of hand. I was also advised that there were other officers at the school that night but discovered they did not work for the Monroe County Sheriff's Department."

Original Story

MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- One hundred students from Sequoyah High School will not be able to graduate after a senior prank turned dangerous.

The prank happened around midnight Thursday.

Students told Local 8 News we they showed up the doors to the gym were unlocked and sheriff's deputies, including the school resource officer, were patrolling outside.

They say officers warned them as they entered the school if they destroyed any property they would be removed.

"The doors in the back of the school were propped open with a chair. They told us when we got in the school, Officer Fisher did, that don't steal anything and don't break anything and we'll be good," Sequoyah High School senior Katelin Barnes said.

Kody Hampton, a senior, says it started out as a Facebook group planning the traditional senior prank. He says almost half the class was a part of it.

They showed up with glitter, balloons, toilet paper and fishing wire, intending to keep it fun and harmless.

"There were pretty much two waves of people who went through. The first wave, wasn't bad, just simple pranks that did no harm."

But just after 1:00 a.m. more students showed up, and it took a turn for the worst, he says.

He says garbage cans dumped and scattered, urine, ketchup and baby oil was put on the walls, and crickets and chickens released into the hallways.

Other students say booby traps were set in front of doorways with marbles, causing teachers to slip.

One teacher had expensive posters torn off his classroom walls. And students had things stolen from their lockers, witnesses say.

"I walked out of the building, I looked at the camera and said 'I was not part of this.' It was awful," Hampton says.

Multiple witnesses say only 20 students took part in the vandalism. Many seniors say they left when they saw what was happening.

"This isn't our school, this isn't our class, we're not about that," Hampton says.

The damage was bad enough that superintendent Tim Blankenship announced Friday afternoon anyone involved in the prank will blocked from graduating.

The district originally told the students they would have to do community service. But Blankenship says after investigating further they decided they needed harsher consequences. He says the damage was "extensive" and "could have caused harm to teachers and students in the school the next day."

"After receiving additional details concerning the events that took place at Sequoyah High School on April 30, 2015, Director of Schools Tim Blankenship has suspended Principal Gary Cole indefinitely, pending an investigation. This suspension is without pay. Any further decision will be made when the investigation is concluded. "

But that has students like Shania Woods outraged. Woods says she left the school before any of the vandalism happened.

"I don't think my graduation should be taken away. They have surveillance video of the people who did this," she says.

Woods says she has a 4.0 and would be graduating with honors. She's been looking forward to this day for years.

"Peeing on the walls is a disgrace. And it was not my fault. I'm not gonna take charge for what someone else did," she says.

Hampton agrees.

"For the kids that just did innocent things, it's not fair. It really isn't," he says.

It's unclear yet if charges will be filed. The Sheriff's Office says they are also investigating an adult that may be involved.
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