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Student’s suspension prompts protest

Following a weekend prank at Wesson Attendance Center, parentsand students gathered at the school this morning to protestsuspension of a student whom law enforcement authorities do notconsider a suspect in the incident.

With seven days left in the school year and final exams crucialto final grades, Wesson Attendance Center senior Mikell Hall hasbeen suspended for 10 days over allegations that he was behind thevandalism at the high school that took place over the weekend, saidHall’s father, Donald Hall.

In the incident, sticky mixtures of flour and sugar were spreadon the floors of several high school wing hallways, school bustires were painted with orange latex paint and all door handles inthe school were coated with petroleum jelly. Authorities are stilllooking into the incident.

“It’s under investigation, but right now this young man is notone of my suspects at this time,” said Wesson Police Chief SteveCarlisle, referring to Mikell Hall. “He has not confessed to us,and I did interview him. So far in our investigation he is not asuspect, and I am looking at several more.”

Donald Hall said his son was interrogated for hours and notallowed to call home before Principal Billy Britt called to informhim his son had been taken to the police station.

Britt was unavailable for comment. A school official said he wasin a National Day of Prayer assembly for students this morning.

Carlisle said he is not informed as to the steps the school istaking against Hall.

“Whatever was done to this kid was at the school (and) was notpolice-related,” he said. “I don’t know anything on theinterrogation at the school or the suspension.”

Donald Hall said his understanding is that his son, who hasalways been a B and C student, will not be allowed to take finalexams. Therefore, the student will not be able to graduate.

“They told me he could withdraw from school and get his GED,” hesaid. “After 12 years at this school, that’s a real slap in theface.”

Ricky Clopton, superintendent of Copiah County Schools, said aGED is an option for Hall, although the school’s investigation isongoing.

“That would be an option they have as an alternate way to finishschool. That’s a fact,” said Clopton.

Clopton also said the only information he had on the matter waswhat has come to him from the school’s administration.

“I can’t tell you a thing about the child or a thing about whatthey know because I’m not privy to that information,” thesuperintendent said.

Clopton said the school is still looking into the informationofficials have.

“We had vandalism at the school and we’re in the process offinding out and dealing with it,” he said. “It will be ongoing andcontinuing at this time.”

According to Donald Hall, Mikell was interrogated by Britt forabout five hours. Allegedly, the boy was put in a closet forperiods of time as school officials interrogated other students,Hall said.

“They don’t have any evidence that he did it except that he said’OK, I did it, take me to the police,'” said Hall.

Hall said his son made that statement after the hours ofquestioning because he felt the police would be much more fair inthe light of the evidence.

Mikell Hall’s classmates believe a grave injustice has beendone.

“It’s crazy and stupid,” said Wesson senior Anthony Price, oneof several students protesting this morning. “They just didn’t haveanyone else to pin it on.”

More than that, students are angry that it’s a possibility thatothers might have perpetrated the vandalism and are letting Halltake the blame.

“There have always been senior pranks,” said senior Trey Fisher,who wore an athletic shirt with Hall’s name and the number 2 on theback.

Fisher said students felt it was wrong for Hall to take theblame if he was not guilty, adding that most of the seniors thinkhe is not guilty.

Parents of seniors gathered at the protest as well, some of themeven vouching for Hall’s character.

“He says he didn’t do it,” said Cherron Carr, who has a daughterin the senior class. “He’s a friend of my daughter’s and she’snever been in trouble either. As far as I know, he’s a goodkid.”

Donald Hall, who admits he’s a little biased as a father, saidin addition to having good grades and keeping his nose clean,Mikell has made him proud.

“He’s a super kid,” he said. “I’d go to jail if it means he’llgraduate.”