A judge has granted an injunction allowing Jake Zimmerman, one of the East Paulding students arrested for a senior prank that escalated to costly vandalism, to attend his graduation ceremony. The judge overruled the school board, which voted last month to bar the student from attending.
Class president, Zimmerman admitted painting a skull and crossbones on the road outside the school, saying it was an annual tradition for seniors. But he said he left the scene before fellow pranksters moved to the school and painted vehicles and buildings, causing $7,500 in damage.
The school system suspended him for the duration of his high school career, banishing him to an alternative school. Unlike most of the teens, he appealed the decision, but the school board denied his appeal last month. Then, a school board member made a motion to heap on more punishment: prohibiting Zimmerman from attending his graduation ceremony. The teen said Wednesday that the board voted 6-1 in favor of the motion.
The ruling undoes that school board decision.
A federal judge on Thursday overruled school officials and said the senior class president at East Paulding High School can attend his graduation ceremony.
U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy in Rome granted a preliminary injunction that allows Jake Zimmerman to attend the May 26 ceremony. Zimmerman, who had participated in an early-morning spray-painting raid at the school, had been barred from graduation ceremonies when he appealed the school system’s decision to suspend him and send him to another school.
“We felt the school board upped the punishment on Jake — barring him from graduation — simply because he appealed the decision and talked to the media about it,” Lester Tate, one of the student’s lawyers, said. “We are very gratified he can now participate in the graduation ceremony.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog