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Seniors' prank awkward for principal

Among those admitting to removing the "1'' keys from school computers is the principal's son.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 25, 2001

DADE CITY -- As Pasco High's senior class filled the gym for graduation rehearsal on Tuesday morning principal Pat Reedy let it be known that he wasn't happy.

Somebody had entered the school after hours the previous night and popped the "1" keys off of about 225 computer keyboards. Reedy wanted to know who was responsible for the prank; teachers were having a hard time completing their final class grades.

Three Pasco high students confessed. One was Reedy's own son, Tye, an honors student and state wrestling champion who has been nominated to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"I'm in the awkward position of being both the principal and the dad," Reedy said.

According to principal Reedy, at some point Monday evening Tye, 18, took his school keys and returned to Pasco High with two friends. The school did not release the names of the other students involved. The three students entered the school and began popping off computer keys with the intent of returning them during tonight's graduation ceremony. It was supposed to be a senior prank.

But the prank came on the heels of widely-publicized and much more malicious spree involving 13 seniors at Land O'Lakes High three weeks ago. Those students vandalized the school and spray-painted skylights with obscene graffiti that maligned an assistant principal. All 13 of those students were barred from their school's graduation ceremonies and received 10-day suspensions. Criminal charges also are pending.

Last week, 13 students at River Ridge hauled a junked car onto the school's commons area and filled it with cement. Those students were assigned to a school work detail, and will be allowed to participate in their school's commencement activities.

Reedy said all three Pasco High students were given discipline referrals and assigned to a work detail cleaning up the campus. Reedy said students pulling pranks in the past have received similar punishments.

Police were not immediately notified about the after-hours trespassing, but Reedy said he has since asked both the school's resource officer and the chief of the Dade City Police Department to investigate. He said the police alone will decide if the prank warrants criminal charges.

All of the keys were returned and replaced by Wednesday afternoon.

Reedy said he was embarrassed over his son's involvement in the prank and ordered Tye to apologize to the entire faculty at a meeting this week. All three of the students, however, will be allowed to participate in tonight's graduation.

"They're good kids," Reedy said of the three students involved in the prank. "Even though they're seniors, that doesn't mean that they know everything. They live and learn and they don't always think about the consequences."

Reedy also is fearful that the prank could interfere with his son's appointment to West Point.

"That's definitely in the back of my mind, too," he said.

-- Kent Fischer covers education in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6241.

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