For the other teens, failure to pay their share of the nearly $5,000 cost to replace the locks might hurt their chances of starting college in the fall.
“I’m assuming it will,” Columbia County school Superintendent Charles Nagle said. “That’s why I’m assuming they’re going to pay us.”
County authorities arrested the seniors – Brooklyn Leigh Bella, 17, Elizabeth Sutton Metz, 17, Dynisha Antoinette Clemons, 17, and Kristin Arey Tannehill, 18 – on felony charges of second-degree criminal damage to property after school officials discovered the vandalism May 11. A week later, the sheriff’s office also arrested a 15-year-old boy on the same charge in connection with the incident.
The girls were suspended the final week of school and barred from their graduation ceremony.
School officials also are withholding their diplomas and refuse to release their second-semester grades until they pay for the damage.
Katherine Sweeney, Augusta State University’s director of admissions, said in an e-mail that provisional acceptance letters are sent to applicants based on their student transcripts through the first semester of their senior year, but the entire transcript eventually is needed.
“If the high school indicates that they cannot provide the transcript and indicates that the reason is because there is a pending debt owed to the high school, we would place a hold on the student record that would prevent registration until we receive the required documents,” Sweeney said.
She stressed, though, that other universities’ policies might vary from those at Augusta State.
Greenbrier Principal Chris Segraves said he believes many colleges might still admit the girls because they need the tuition payments.
“I’m sure something can be worked out to not keep them from attending college in the fall,” he said. “We don’t want to keep them from furthering their education.”
Nagle said a parent recently contacted the school system about paying one girl’s share of the damage to free up her grades for college.
According to District Attorney Ashley Wright, her office now has the complete case file on the incident and will be working on a presentation to a grand jury.