Five high school seniors attempting to pull a prank while school was out were surprised when their discovery led to handcuffs and a fine from the municipal court.
Kyle Holmes (18), Taylor Hartmann (18), Grant Weaver (17), Jordan Handberry (17), and Travis McClinton (17) were charged with criminal mischief after they were found attaching zip ties to student lockers in the high school.
According to the Blanco PD report narrative, an officer was dispatched to a possible break-in at Blanco High School at 1:30 pm on September 6, 2010. A teacher reported to the officer that he had entered the high school through the front doors and, hearing noises, observed someone hiding behind a set of lockers. He walked down the hallway, found Kyle Holmes and Taylor Hartmann, and apprehended them. The two were taken to the teachers’ lounge; the teacher called another teacher who then notified the police.
Holmes and Hartmann explained to the officer that they were pulling a senior prank, zip-tying the lockers closed, and that there were three others involved. The officer called Assistant Chief Carl Bragg, who asked that the students be brought to the police department for questioning.
High School Principal Dustin Barton and Municipal Court Judge Don Barnett were called to the department. The three other students involved turned themselves in as well.
“When we got the phone call, it was shock, disbelief, fear,” recalled Tricia Hartmann, Taylor’s mother. “I could not believe this was happening.” Hartmann said she was first told that they had burglarized the school, and were going to be charged with a felony that could jail them for up to 2 years, before finding out the details of the prank.
Each student was given a citation for criminal mischief, a Class C Misdemeanor. The charge states that the students intentionally tampered with the property of Blanco High School, without the school’s consent, and caused substantial inconvenience.
The students were each fined $175 and chose to either perform 10 hours of community service or follow a 11pm curfew. The cases will not be reported as convictions as long as the students do not violate the agreement and aren’t convicted of another crime in the period ending this Friday, October 8. The students were then released and went to the high school to remove the zip ties.
Two of the parents Blanco County News spoke with, Tricia Hartmann and Dena Kipp, thought the school should’ve handled the discipline and were surprised that the city became involved.
“Judge Barnett has been fair with the boys,” stated Tricia Hartmann, Taylor’s mother. “It’s just that it got to that point, where the city was pulled in.” When Principal Barton was asked, Hartmann said, he declined to press any charges and was very accommodating.
What they have a problem with is the price put on inconvenience, with the fine totaling $875 from all five students.
“I think it’s absurd,” said Dena Kipp, mother of Jordan Handberry. “It’s honestly the most ridiculous legal action I’ve heard in Blanco.” Hartmann also said that the punishment did not fit the crime.
The parents consider the case closed, preferring to focus on moving forward and having a positive senior year experience. Many in the community have expressed support to the students and their parents.
“Everyone thinks it’s crazy,” Kipp said. “I’ve not heard one person yet who thought it wasn’t totally blown out of proportion.”
“If you participate in a prank,” Hartmann warned future pranksters, “you better make darn sure you know what the laws are. These kids didn’t know what was going to happen. If they knew, they probably wouldn’t have done this. Mistakes were made. They put themselves in that position by being there.”
Blanco Independent School District does not comment on student discipline matters. Municipal Court Judge Don Barnett had not responded to questions at press time.