Rock Bridge trespassing issue a 'miscommunication', tickets dropped

Friday, June 4, 2010 | 6:44 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The trespassing tickets issued to the 18 Rock Bridge High School students who were attempting a senior prank on Thursday have been dropped.

Rock Bridge principal Kathy Ritter and other school board members dropped the charges regarding the balloon prank after reviewing previous pranks occurred at the school.

“We didn’t want the students to pay a high price,” Ritter said.

Ritter said she told the students that blowing up balloons would be an acceptable prank while disagreeing with some of their other prank ideas. But she did not know the students would be coming after midnight.

The incident was mainly caused by miscommunication between one faculty member and the deployed police officers at the school. The faculty member allowed 18 students to enter the building after midnight, Ritter said.

That faculty member did not realize that there were police officers to secure the building from intruders, Ritter said.

She added that the school will try to prevent the miscommunication for next year’s prank.

Some Rock Bridge students favored the decision made by the school board.

"This prank was harmless,” Jessie Iveson, 17, said. “It was not vandalism (compared) to last year’s cutting off trees.”

However, she also said trespassing into the school after midnight was still “crossing a line.”

“I don’t think they intended anything,” Nathan Cotner, 17, said. “They just tried to fill the place with the balloons.”

According to a previous Missourian article, Ritter confirmed that 12 male and six female students entered the building after hours. They brought with them an estimated 2,000 uninflated balloons and an undetermined number of pennies.

Those 18 students were released after receiving tickets for trespassing from the police officers.

The students were expected to be prohibited from participating in any senior activities, including graduation until the school made a decision, Ritter said.

The consequences for the faculty member who allowed the students to enter into the building was not determined until Friday afternoon, but Ritter would not reveal the decision or which teacher it was.

“This is a personal issue.” Ritter said.

She said the school’s action for that faculty member is confidential. 

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