Just one of four Greenbrier High students accused of squirting super glue into numerous door locks at the school thus far has paid restitution for the damages.
For the other teens, failure to pay their share of the at least $5,000 cost to replace the locks might hurt their chances for starting college in the fall.
“I’m assuming it will (hurt their chances),” Columbia County schools Superintendent Charles Nagle said of the girls starting college in the fall quarter. “That’s why I’m assuming they’re going to pay us.”
Columbia County authorities arrested the seniors – Brooklyn Leigh Bella, 17; Elizabeth Sutton Metz, 17; Dynisha Antoinette Clemons, 17; and Kristin Arey Tannehill, 18 – on felony charges of second-degree criminal damage to property following discovery of the vandalism by school officials on May 11. A week later, the sheriff’s office also arrested a 15-year-old boy on the same charge for the same incident.
District Attorney Ashley Wright said Friday in an email that her office now has the complete case file from the sheriff's office and will be working on a presentation to the grand jury.
As punishment, the girls were suspended the final week of school and banned from attending their own graduation ceremony.
School officials also are withholding their diplomas and refuse to release their second-semester grades until they pay for the damages.
“We talk to students all the time while recruiting, trying to impress upon them that getting that (college) acceptance letter is not the end of the story and that they need to be mindful that grades and conduct during the end of the senior year and the summer before starting college really do matter,” said Augusta State University Director of Admissions Katherine Sweeney in an email.
“An acceptance can be rescinded if the circumstances warrant such.”
At ASU, Sweeney said provisional acceptance letters are sent to applicants based on their student transcripts through the first semester of their senior years. But the entire transcript eventually is needed.
“If the high school indicates that they cannot provide the transcript and indicates that the reason is because there is a pending debt owed to the high school, we would place a hold on the student record that would prevent registration until we receive the required documents,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney stressed, though, that the policy of other universities might vary from those used at Augusta State.
Due to the need for tuition payments, Greenbrier Principal Chris Segraves said he believes many colleges might still admit the girls.
“I’m sure something can be worked out to not keep them from attending college in the fall,” he said. “We don’t want to keep them from furthering their education.”
However, Nagle said a parent recently contacted the school system about paying one girl’s share of the damages to free up her grades for college.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Segraves said none of the girls had paid restitution. On Friday, though, Segraves said in an email that one family did pay, but he didn’t say who or when.