No Prom, Graduation for Pranksters at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A stunt by a group of Belen Jesuit students ended in several being banned from prom and graduation. NBC 6's Laura Rodriguez reports. (Published Friday, May 16, 2014)

    A prestigious school that's not often the center of controversy had many parents, students and alumni discussing whether or not the punishment for a senior prank went too far.

    In a letter to parents of students at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, the president and principal said what happened:

    "During the sixth period class, they decided to go running and screaming through the hallways, entered a 7th grade class, overturned chairs while a teacher was conducting her class, destroyed seven iPads and even hurt some of the students."

    Administrators said the school fully investigated the incidents and "took immediate action with compassion, since the maximum penalty, expulsion, was not applied."

    The all-male Catholic school president said less than 30 seniors were involved, but not all students received the same punishment. Eighteen students cannot walk the graduation, cannot attend prom or any banquet. All students, however, will receive their diplomas.

    "What has occurred made all of us very troubled and very sad," said S.J. Pedro Suarez, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School President.

    Initially, the students involved were not allowed to attend the baccalaureate mass, but after further thought, the administration changed its mind.

    "I had a meeting with the seniors, they were all very polite and I heard what they had to say. And I thought that maybe we could take the mass back and put it back so they can all attend with their mothers, because that was a big thing," Suarez said.

    Alumni, parents and students took to social media to voice their opinions. Sean Lynch graduated in 1986 and tutors many Belen students for exams.

    "A lot of them were concerned that the reaction of the school might have been a little harsh," Lynch said.

    Lynch is satisfied the administration changed its mind about the mass and thinks meaningful dialogue was part of the solution.

    "If students aren't safe then the school isn't doing it's job, at the same time that concern for discipline has to be mitigated by concern for the full education that only Belen can offer," Lynch said.