Father: Schools rule son may graduate

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Copiah County School Board ruled Monday afternoon thatWesson Attendance Center senior Mikell Hall, the only studentaccused by Wesson school officials of the April 28 vandalism at thehigh school, will be allowed to make up missed work, take his examsand receive a diploma, the boy’s father said.

Hall will not, however, be allowed to participate in thegraduation ceremony with the class he’s spent 12 years in schoolwith.

“I can say that based on the circumstances and information Ifeel like everyone was treated fairly,” said Donald Hall, Mikell’sfather. “We appreciate the school board taking the time to listento our side of the story. Nobody won or lost in thissituation.”

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He was suspended over the vandalism, which included flour andsugar throughout the halls in the high school and Vaseline ondoorknobs, as well as acrylic paint on school buses.

The school board met at 3 p.m. and after talking with the familyand several witnesses in executive session, adjourned shortlybefore 7 p.m. School officials did not comment on Hall’ssituation.

“Unfortunately what went on in the board meeting affects thechild and is confidential,” said Olen Bryant, school boardattorney.

School board officials were also tight-lipped about any actiontaken in the almost-four-hour closed meeting.

“You know this is dealing with a student. Nobody can saynothing,” said school board member Ricky Smith. “The schooldistrict can’t speak.”

Previously, school officials had said Mikell Hall would not takehis exams or graduate, and had told his parents he should look intoa GED. The family was obviously relieved to hear he would beallowed to receive a diploma.

Tears and hugs were passed around among family members andsupporters after Hall emerged following his hearing with the schoolboard.

According to hearing participants, they were interviewed aboutthe night of the vandalism, during which time Hall is said to havestayed at his friend Anthony Price’s house to work on a seniorEnglish paper. Price’s parents, Brenda and Ray Price, were bothcalled in to testify, as was Anthony.

“They asked me whether my son and Mikell were at the house thatSunday night and what times I was awake and asleep and would I knowif they snuck out of the house or not,” said Ray Price. “I toldthem I woke back up at 3:30 in the morning and they were still atthe house and I got in my recliner and started watching TV.”

Anthony Price said he and Mikell worked on papers all night, butthat at one point he fell asleep for a period of between five and10 minutes. He said that Wesson Attendance Center Principal BillyBritt had used that time frame to implicate Mikell in thevandalism.

“They said that I told Mr. Britt that I’d fallen asleep and thathe had time to go and do that (vandalize the school),” said AnthonyPrice. “I said no, that it couldn’t have been more than about 10minutes that I was asleep.”

Chief Steve Carlisle of the Wesson Police Department said hisdepartment is not receiving much information on the incident. Hespeculated that many people may not come forward until aftergraduation.

“My intelligence coming in is not really good right now, and theboy getting suspended has not helped,” he said. “Everyone’s scared.I have a lot of people to talk to, but I feel graduation passingwill open up the lines of communication.”

Donald Hall said his son is dealing with the situation wellgiven the circumstances.

“At the beginning, he was really upset that he wasn’t going toget to graduate, but he’s looked it over and he’s looked at thedecision he was handed yesterday,” he said today. “At this point,he has no desire to enter into the school based upon the atmospherebeing uncomfortable for him.”

The family was pleased the school is allowing Mikell to make uphis work and take his exams at his own pace since he’s missedseveral days of school. Hall said when Mikell has studied for hisexams, he will be allowed to sit with a teacher and take them.

Hall also said Mikell, who plans to go to Copiah-LincolnCommunity College and major in pre-med or pre-veterinary medicine,has learned quite a bit through a situation where he’s been forcedto stand under such pressure.

“This is not going to hold him back, he’s learned a lot andmatured a lot,” said Donald Hall. “He handled himself veryprofessionally yesterday. I was proud of him.”