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Students suspended for rest of school year over graffiti spree (16089)


Students suspended for rest of school year over graffiti spree

Four Michigan students initially suspended for 10 days have been suspended for the rest of the school year for spray-painting the word "Love" on the grounds of Howell High School, in one instance to cover up an antigay epithet. Three of the students suspended Wednesday are seniors who won't be allowed to take part in their graduation ceremony or any other senior activities.

The school initially invoked the 10-day suspension on May 9 for the three seniors and one sophomore for vandalism, one day after they used spray paint to cover the words "God hates fags," which had been scrawled on a rock near the high school entrance. Although the rock is frequently painted by students, the four also spray-painted "Love" more than 25 times around the flagpole and more than 25 times on sidewalks on the north side of the building.

But the students said they believed the antigay message was an attack on their openly gay friend, and they wanted to make a statement. "We did it because it upset us that somebody could be that rude to our friend, that they could say something that close-minded. We were very insulted," 18-year-old Shayna Kamilar, one of the suspended students, told the Detroit Free Press for a Thursday story.

Vinnie Mascola, 17, said, "Our goal was that every single student who walked into Howell High School would have one word on their minds, and that word would be love. We made a mistake. But at the time we weren't aware that it was a mistake." Also suspended were senior Derek Weber, 18, and an unnamed sophomore.

Kamilar's father, Gregg Kamilar, said the district will arrange for the seniors to complete their studies so they can receive diplomas. He said he and the other parents are planning a separate commencement ceremony for their children and any other students wishing to participate.

The suspension decision came after tribunals Wednesday evaluating the cases. Gregg Kamilar said the cost of removing the graffiti came to $1,392, which he expects the students will have to pay themselves. "As a taxpayer, I would be upset if they didn't make the students pay it," he told the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. (AP)

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