116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — City High parents and others have donated $1,500 so far to fix vandalism done to the school last weekend in what some have described as a senior prank gone awry.
More than 500 people have signed an online petition to support Assistant Principal Scott Jespersen, who parents and students said was placed on leave following the incident.
“I don’t understand why they would be trying to hold Mr. Jespersen accountable for some things kids making bad choices did,” said Leah Cronk, who has a daughter graduating from City High this weekend.
Cronk and other parents said it is their understanding a school administrator let some students into the building Sunday night to hang balloons and streamers, but other students came and damaged the building by spray painting walls, pouring syrup on items and cutting up historical photos, among other actions.
The school district would not comment to The Gazette, saying it was a personnel matter.
Spokeswoman Kristin Pedersen would not answer questions about the vandalism, including the damage estimate, why the school did not file a police complaint, and if there will be repercussions for the students involved.
The Gazette tried to reach Jespersen at the school, but he wasn’t there, and sent him a message on Facebook that he did not respond to.
Damage to the school was discovered early Monday, according to a call for service to Iowa City police. The call at 3:59 a.m. said there were “several subjects” in the parking lot, “some laying down.”
When police arrived, they met with school employees who told them they had not approached the 20 or so people in the parking lot and that officials were “trying to assess the damage to the property.”
Officer notes say “senior prank day??” and “TP all over the place.” Police left after school officials declined to file a complaint.
But the inside of City High sustained more damage, parents and students reported.
“On the night of Sunday, May 22, the City High senior class did their senior prank. This rapidly went downhill due to some students destroying school property, and trashing the school rather than doing the original prank,” Savannah Steele, a City High senior, wrote in an online petition on Change.org.
“Mr. Jespersen is a person who has always showed kindness. His generosity was wrongfully taken advantage of this night resulting with consequences on himself. We want to show the ICCSD how much Mr. Jespersen means to City High School. The damage done by the students has ranked up to around $8,000.”
Steele confirmed Thursday she started the petition, but did not want to comment further.
A GoFundMe page created by Tyson Friday, a City High parent, seeks to raise $5,000 to repair damage in the school. He told The Gazette he created the page because his son, a graduating senior, and his son’s friends did not like being associated with the vandalism.
“There was damage done, not by my son, not by anyone he knows,” Friday said. “He and his friends were like ‘This is not right.’ They are trying to be active, good citizens.”
Leah Klevar, another parent of a City High senior, said she, too, supports Jespersen.
“It seems that those students — and perhaps their families — also could be involved in making reparations for the damage,” she said.
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