Parents, students petition town council, want Teaneck High School senior prank charges dropped

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Parents and students are coming to the defense of Teaneck High School seniors accused of pulling a prank that went too far.

Supporters gathered at a town council meeting Tuesday to express disappointment in how the local police department handled its response.

A total of 63 students were arrested on May 1 for what some call an innocent senior prank. Others say the school was vandalized, and that the students should face consequences for their actions.

Friends and family members are encouraging the council and mayor to do what they can to have the charges against the seniors dropped.

Janelle Rojas is an honor student, headed to William Paterson to study nursing next fall. She admits to being one of those taken into custody that night. She says they blew up balloons and put vaseline on some door knobs. 

"Our intentions were never bad," says Rojas. "Our plan was to blow up balloons or do something subtle and small." 

Rojas believes those actions didn't warrant the heavy police response or criminal charges. "I was terrified," she says. "We were surrounded and being yelled at and cursed at by cops."

Janelle's mother and other parents at the meeting are hoping what they call a minor prank won't cause major damage to the futures of the 63 students involved. 

"Their future is gone, scholarship gone, pretty much follows them wherever they go," says parent Joyce Luciano.

Supporters say the school-sanctioned punishment, which included a suspension, should be enough consequences. 

The superintendent has said there was no major damage to the school. But so far, there has been no indication from the police or the prosecutor that the charges will be dropped.

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