Fowl Play: New Jersey Teens Criminally Charged With School Prank

We have been following the trend toward using criminal penalties to handle pranks and simple misconduct by students in our schools. Now, three high school students in New Jersey are facing criminal charges for a simple senior prank of releasing chickens at the school. They may also be barred from graduation. It is part of the criminalization of our society where we are turning our children into little felons because school officials blindly call police at every little infraction.

Anthony Cesareo, 17, and Tyler Bruno, 17, pushed the chickens through a window at Woodbridge High School in the middle of the night. They chickens were found by a janitor the next day. No harm and perhaps a little fowl.

Technically, the third student — 18-year-old Bryan Pater — could receive $1,000 fine and six months in prison. While I doubt a judge would impose such a sentence, the question is why we continue to use the criminal justice system to deal with matters that were once the subject of simple teacher-parent conferences.

Source: NYCBS

27 thoughts on “Fowl Play: New Jersey Teens Criminally Charged With School Prank

  1. This reminds me of the high school sexting cases, where government actions in the case (publicity, arrest records, felony charges, sex offender status) damaged or completely destroyed the life prospects for the kids involved.

    With arrest records or worse, these kids in Woodbridge NJ will have a hard time with college applications and future employment. That seems like a harsh penalty to level for a trivial prank.

  2. They had this story on a local news channel and they were interviewing the students and one of them said”wow people don’t have a sense of humor any more”.

    **Technically, the third student — 18-year-old Bryan Pater — could receive $1,000 fine and six months in prison.**

    At least for Mr Pater I think not.

  3. I’m not saying this isn’t a huge over reaction, but…back in the olden days when I was in high school, I had a lot more to fear from my parents than any cop.

    I think an appropriate response would have been sentencing the kids to help the janitor out for a few hours. But in todays world the parents would probably sue.

    By the way, I think my Dad would have found this funny, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.

  4. Thank god I graduated when I did….I’d be in prison or the county jail for the stuff we, I, us….did….

    Like releasing two greased pigs….27 birds… and chaining a teachers Chevy Vega to the Flag Pole….Yes…I, we, us…carried the car about 18 feet..

    But that was back in the early 70’s…..

    This is just wrong…..in so many ways….

  5. AY,

    “Thank god I graduated when I did….I’d be in prison or the county jail for the stuff we, I, us….did….”

    I hear you – I’d probably still be in jail for some of the senior pranks I did!

    To say the schools reaction to this is ridiculous is a mild understatement.

  6. SL,

    We had people sitting in circles and passing around cigarettes..of course they were….we had oil pumps….7 of them in the parking lot with fences….some people rode them….I didn’t….maybe…I am not sure…some people seemed to be able to get on the roof of the school…how they did that I am not sure…..

    I think someone soaped all of the locker handles….or at least I think it was soap…

    Ah they story’s I could embellish upon….the SOL has passed….thank god….

    Hey has anyone seen Mike S?

  7. We had a group of seniors in my high school graduating class who spent their entire senior year pulling the “vasoline” prank. One never knew if the locker or door handle one was about to touch had a film of vasoline on it. The prank started the first day back from summer vacation and ran all year till graduation.

    No one was ever caught and it wasn’t until our 10th reunion that the six guilty parties confessed.

    At our 15th reunion the vice-principal, who had organized weekly gangs of teachers to roam the halls and catch the “little buggers”, and who had been promoted to principal two years after our graduation, and who was retiring during our 15th reunion year, was invited to the reunion and presented with a retirement plague on which were listed the names of the “Vasoline Pranksters”. A month after the reunion all pranksters received a pair of 18K gold handcuff charms in the mail with a gracious note from the retiring principal.

  8. AY,

    Lol – didn’t we ALL sit around in a circle smoking “cigarettes”?

    There’s a gas station down the street from my high school with a statue of a horse in front of it. It is a tradition for the senior class to steal it and leave it on the football field of the rival school. The owner of the gas station, without complaint, would pull out the flat-bed the next day because he always knew where to find it …

    Soap? Weak, dude … we went with Vaseline :D

    Mike S popped in yesterday so he’s still around …

  9. Wow! You mean I could have gone to jail for dropping water balloons out the third floor window of Niles East High School in Skokie?? We also released chickens on that Senior Prank Day, but I was not involved in that particular scheme. I sure hope the statute of limitations has run by now!

  10. One of the things these schools don’t seem to get is that situations like this break down what should be a partnership between the parents and the school. The school says you do a shift with the janitor, the parents say be grateful it wasn’t more and by the way you’re also spending a day helping with panicked animals at the local shelter, and the kid learns a lesson in consequences. Here, the school overreacts, the parents sympathize/protect their kid from those excessive consequences, and the kid gets a mixed message.

  11. It is part of the criminalization of our society where we are turning our children into little felons because school officials blindly call police at every little infraction.
    ————————————————-
    well, back in the day when we had to walk miles to school and stop half way to clear the local fields…well waaaaaay back then teachers and superintendants had the authority to leverage discipline ….I spent many hours in dentention and doing special ‘projects’ designed to put me back on track. It worked, it made sense, there was a good deal of respect for the auhtority figures in the schools. The new paradigm however is here because teachers were undermined by parents who refused to allow anyone other than themselves discipline (or opt out of same) thier precious spoiled bundles by going over the teachers heads to un-principled principles or buddy-up politicians who buy influence via favors and channels outside of the ‘system’.

    This is what it looks like when the inmates run the prison.

  12. or better analogy….things get all Lord of the Fliesy when kids rule…and if I were a teacher….I wouldn’t waste my time trying to enact discipline where I would simply be overrided …by parents or whoever….and then we expect them to go back in those rooms and teach?

    The whole dynamic has become twisted…good for that school for putting the onus of discipline back on the only place left that is ALLOWED to be effective. The omnioppressive courts.

  13. Blouise: “the vice-principal, … who was retiring during our 15th reunion year, was invited to the reunion and presented with a retirement plague on which were listed the names of the “Vasoline Pranksters”. A month after the reunion all pranksters received a pair of 18K gold handcuff charms in the mail with a gracious note from the retiring principal.”


    That is one classy guy.

  14. This should just be for the asst principal and the parents to discuss. But I would draw the line if the kids were choking their chickens!

  15. Way back behind the bikeshed we got benign early Sex-perience, now control-freak US-UK/Anglos will be CRIMINALIZING mere consensual kidSEX next!

    Whatdya mean it’s already been made a CRIME ? So, they’ll be making self-masturbation to images of Mr Beiber a Thought-CRIME next!

    The real CRIMINALS are self-loathing Anglo/Fascist control-freaks !!

  16. Good grief. To think that back in the day, students from my HS were never criminally charged for placing cherry bombs (M80 firecrackers) in (boys room) toilets, just to get a fire drill, in order to get outside for a smoke.

    And oh! the flashbacks of vice principals chasing students around the parking lot for “dope dealing” brings back memories of the “glory days” of HS.

    Chickens?! Where the hell did these hoodlums get there hands on live chickens, in central NJ?

  17. I feel bad for these kids. And, like most of the posters, this story brings back fond memeories of highschool. We used to stack fast-food ketchup packets with little pin pricks in them between the toilet and toilet seat in the faculty washrooms. When a teacher sat down they might get squirted, or it would just look like a scene from “Jaws” if they looked down in the bowl. It was a win/win situation.

    The janitor they had in charge of weekend detention (We were always supposed to scrub dumpsters. We got caught a lot), was about 25 years old and used to get us stoned. Again, win/win.

  18. “…the question is why we continue to use the criminal justice system to deal with matters that were once the subject of simple teacher-parent conferences.”

    Because the types of parents who raise children who think “pranks” are Ok are not likely to be impressed by such a meeting.

    Pranks are by definition acts that are on some level sociopathic, such as defacing property, disrupting other peoples lives, as wall as taunting, causing minor explosions, false bomb threats, and pulling fire alarms, putting sugar in teachers gas tanks, super gluing teacher’s desk drawers shut, etc, and which left unchecked can lead to considerable harm and even death – the parents of those types of youth are not going to respond to a parent teacher chit chat.

    And the teacher who dares to criticize their child may end up receiving death threats or be slapped with a law suit or worse.

  19. Lotta,

    “That is one classy guy.”

    =============================================

    He was indeed. The plaque we presented him was fairly large with a carved replica of a vasoline jar along with the names of the six and this quote:

    Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words. . .
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.- Shakespeare – Henry V

    He passed away 14 years ago and the plaque was displayed at his wake. He willed it to the school and it hung in the Trophy Case.

    Before writing this to you I called a friend of mine who lives in the town and she went up to the school … she said the plaque now hangs under his picture in the School Board office along with all the other Principals’ pictures.

  20. Blouise, That must be a particularly distinguishing trophy on the honor wall. I hope there’s someone at the School Board office that knows the story and can pass it on.

  21. pete,

    “it’s not like they released a rabbit”

    I forgot to say thanks for the clip – that’s my favorite part of the whole movie!

  22. “Chickens?! Where the hell did these hoodlums get there hands on live chickens, in central NJ?” – Anon

    225 West State Street, Trenton, NJ.

    _________

    “You do not love your children enough if you have them in a public school Fundamentalist religious organization.” – Tootles

    And in the tradition of our own HenMan: Go to Hell, Tootie. For no particular reason although the idea of a divisionist hateful clown such as yourself lecturing about loving ones children is particularly hypocritical given your past endorsement of private schools discriminating against children because their parents were homosexual.

  23. BIL,

    How are you feeling?!

    “And in the tradition of our own HenMan: Go to Hell, Tootie.”

    Lol – I was going to do the same thing but decided Taliban Tootie’s not worth the effort :)

  24. SL,

    I bit better. The pain meds are facilitating though. Seriously, I think I’ve been out of bed and awake about 6 hours total over the last 6 days. The Dr.’s said if I’m not substantially feeling better by Monday w/o the pain meds that they are going to add additional A/B’s to the mix, but so far I have hope that the Cipro alone will get the job done. The croquet mallets have been replaced with being poked by heavy gauge drumsticks today. Still not great but a substantial improvement nonetheless. Thanks for asking. :)

  25. BIL,

    Glad to hear you’re better! Hopefully by Monday, the drumsticks will be downgraded to cotton balls . . .

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