What’s being called a senior prank has sparked controversy at a Mid-Michigan high school.
A group of students sparked outrage in the Fenton community after going to school dressed in derogatory costumes.
The superintendent of Fenton Area Public Schools said the incident took him by surprise.
“This offended families. It offended students. It offended our community members,” said Adam Hartley, superintendent.
This was not a school sponsored senior prank. That is the message Hartley wants everyone to hear.
Hartley said he is embarrassed and disappointed over what took place in a high school classroom on Thursday, May 16.
“We’re embracing diversity and that picture certainly does not reflect that,” Hartley said.
A small group of students wore outfits commonly associated with Mexican-American street gangs, known as "cholos." The photo of the group went viral, sparking off controversy in Tiger country.
Hartley also said a staff member took part in the prank.
“We acted very promptly early this morning when that was brought to our attention, made sure that staff member was not with students this morning,” Hartley said.
If Hartley had it his way, there wouldn’t be any senior pranks. But given that they happen, he said there’s a proper way to have a prank.
“There was no offensive language. There wasn’t anything that people could look at that pointed to making fun of any other students or anything of that nature,” Hartley said.
For example, leaving balloons, cups and other items lodged in the fence at the baseball field.
Hartley said that’s something that can be cleaned up and doesn’t have a lasting impact. Instead, Hartley said these students will leave this act as part of their digital footprint that will follow them for a long time.
“In today’s world, any pictures, any video, anything that we place out on the web so to speak doesn’t go away,” Hartley said.
He said what happened on Thursday is still under investigation.
The staff member who took part in the senior prank has been placed on administrative leave.