UPDATE: Lyndhurst Schools Supt. Joseph A. DeCorso announced that a group of high school seniors who staged a harmless prank earlier this week can walk at graduation Wednesday night.
The schools chief had banned 18 seniors from walking at the scheduled 7:30 p.m. graduation, igniting a firestorm that eventually led him to rescind it.
"This morning the administration met with parents of students involved with the high school prank incident," DeCorso said shortly after 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. "As a result of the discussions had, an amicable resolution was reached between the parties.
"Details concerning the resolution cannot be released as it involves sensitive student information," the superintendent noted.
"The Board is committed to preserving and securing the health welfare and safety of the students and staff at all of its buildings. We do not arrive at this resolution without concern for the future of our student body, especially during a time when the safety of students, within a school building, is of paramount concern.
"Moving forward, policies, procedures and codes of conduct will be updated to ensure that this critical concern is addressed in an appropriate and fair manner."
Eighteen seniors who were let into the high school by a staff member Monday night moved some desks from classrooms into the hallways and left.
DeCorso, in turn, banned them from walking at the commencement ceremony.
COVID denied seniors nationwide a traditional graduation, among other disruptions. But things are different now – except for what Daily Voice has dubbed “The Lyndhurst 18."
Police who responded to a call after the fact determined that the teens, indeed, had been allowed into the building by a staff member -- and didn’t break in -- a senior law enforcement officer with knowledge of the incident said.
The officers had the youngsters “put everything back,” the officer said. “There’s no more police involvement beyond that.”
The reaction by DeCorso upset many.
“I just want to put a smile on my [family’s] face,” one teen said. “They came from all around the country to celebrate this special day that I’ve worked hard for 12 years to accomplish.”
Parents were up in arms, and not just those of the blackballed teens. Yes, the seniors should have known better, they say, but the punishment seems way too severe.
"My son, who has not had one infraction in 4 years at LHS, was told to leave the school building and sent home and told he could not attend his graduation ceremony," Jose Guzman said Tuesday night.
"They let these kids into the building," Guzman wrote. "The kids spoke with the school safety police officer beforehand, to tell him what they were doing. 4 years of hard work and dedication. My son and his family can’t celebrate his accomplishments at his graduation ceremony because of a prank?
"The majority of the Lyndhurst school board members voted for the kids to walk," Guzman noted. "But they can’t override the superintendent."
The incident “caused no harm and didn’t cost the school money,” said Olga Rivera, whose brother is among those affected.
“The students involved demonstrate excellence in the classroom and on the playing field,” added Alessandra Alberti, who launched a change.org petition.
PETITION: Let The Boys Walk (change.org)
“Some of the students have earned gold tassels that demonstrate their academic achievement but were not able to collect them at the senior assembly," Alberti added. "Two of the students are continuing their athletic careers to play soccer at prestigious schools.
“The administration has threaten[ed] the students with burglary and trespassing charges, despite [their] being let into the building by staff members,” she noted. “The students involved also cleaned up everything they did within the same hour and have even offered to do community service in exchange [for] walking on graduation.”
Lyndhurst native Angela Schifano said the seniors “already probably had a less than ideal high school experience the last couple of years because of the pandemic and missed out on enough.”
Parent Elaine Pell agreed.
Administrators are “threatening their future,” she wrote. “They had a rough high school experience due to COVID and now your going to add this on top of it.”
“There are criminals walking around Bergen County not being picked up on warrants and out on bail reform,” said a parent who’s also an educator in another district. “But let’s ruin these kids’ futures completely.”
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