So, as final exams loomed and pressure built last June at Hanover High School, some students hatched a scheme for acing the tests: One evening after school was out, a group of students entered the school building, authorities say. While some stood sentry in hallways, others entered a classroom and used stolen keys to break into a teacher's filing cabinet and steal exams for advanced math honors, advanced math, Algebra II, and calculus. Five days later, another group stole chemistry finals. In total, some 50 students are suspected of participating in the thefts, either helping to plan them or receiving answers from stolen exams.
Rather than issuing suspensions or grade demotions, school officials notified police. And after a seven-week investigation, the police prosecutor handling the case brought criminal charges against nine students. Last week, the prosecutor notified the nine students' parents that if they chose to take the cases to trial, he could raise misdemeanor charges to felonies, which carry possible prison terms of 3 1/2 to seven years.
Parents of the accused are furious and frantically trying to reduce charges to violations that carry no criminal penalties, penalties they say could harm their children's chances of attending college or securing employment.
I understand the parents' motivation--no one wants their kids to go to jail. I wonder, though, if they step outside their own situation and listen to how pathetic they sound to the rest of us.
If you're planning enough to have lookouts, you know what you're doing is wrong. Breaking and entering is a felony.
Even if they survive the felony threat, at a minimum they should all be sentenced to--gasp!--community college. To mow the lawns, to clean the toilets, to empty the trash, to sweep the halls. In other words, let them give the custodial staff a little break, and in the process maybe learn a little something about the value of the education that they're trying to acquire on the cheap, the education to which they think they're entitled, the education they're willing to break the law to get.