UPDATE: School district employee suspended over senior prank - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: School district employee suspended over senior prank

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Surveillance photos taken from North Cedar High School's security camera. Surveillance photos taken from North Cedar High School's security camera.
Surveillance photos taken from North Cedar High School's security camera. Surveillance photos taken from North Cedar High School's security camera.
Surveillance photos taken from North Cedar High School's security camera. Surveillance photos taken from North Cedar High School's security camera.
A cleaning crew vacuums up silage and other debris dumped in North Cedar after a case of vandalism closed the school for the day. (Justin Andrews, KWWL) A cleaning crew vacuums up silage and other debris dumped in North Cedar after a case of vandalism closed the school for the day. (Justin Andrews, KWWL)
CEDAR COUNTY (KWWL) -

One North Cedar Community School District employee has been suspended over a senior prank that forced the district to cancel classes on Monday.

The district says seven students have also been identified for their role in the vandalism. The students are accused of dumping a mixture of animal blood, beer and sour corn inside the cafeteria. The employee allegedly gave them a key to the building.

Graduation is set for Sunday and KWWL asked Superintendent Mike Cooper if those students responsible for the vandalism would participate. Cooper said he would not release that information publicly, but did issue the following statement:

"The North Cedar Community School District administration and board remain involved in the recent vandalism act. We are working with local law enforcement regarding the incident and continue to follow through to ensure appropriate actions take place. At this time, seven students and one employee have been identified as having involvement in the vandalism act. The consequences for the actions of these students have been applied in accordance with the district's student conduct policy. The employee has been suspended indefinitely pending further review. The situation is ongoing and these actions are subject to change pending the continuing investigation by local authorities and advice of legal counsel."

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PREVIOUS STORY:

Seven seniors who may have participated in a "senior prank," where buckets containing a fermented fish bait concoction reportedly containing animal blood, beer and sour corn were dumped inside North Cedar High School, could face criminal charges.

The students apparently turned themselves in to school staff on Wednesday, according to the Cedar County Sheriff's Office, who then interviewed all seven students.

At least four of those students entered the school with a key they appeared to have obtained from either a current or former school employee, according to Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington. They then dumped five-gallon buckets containing the fish bait concoction onto the cafeteria carpet.

Wethington believes the staff member did not think the prank would go this far.

Three others did not enter the school but participated in vandalism, like TP-ing and putting up caution tape, outside, according to Wethington.

All seven could face criminal mischief charges as early as next week. Wethington said there may be additional charges, and the school employee may also be charged.

"It is my hope that everyone involved is charged," said Wethington.

The ones who entered the school wore masks to conceal their faces, according to Wethington. The school's surveillance video has not yet been turned over to his office, though district officials have reviewed it.

The students are all either 17 or 18 years old.

"Whatever was in the buckets was left there for years, and that led to the smell" that continued in the school even after a deep cleaning, Wethington said.

The sheriff's office continues to investigate.


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PREVIOUS STORY:

North Cedar students are back in school Tuesday, but there's still an odor from the vandalism that forced the district to cancel classes on Monday.

Silage, rotten corn and beans were left in the cafeteria. Crews spent Monday cleaning it up.

Superintendent Mike Cooper says for now, students will get their food and take it elsewhere to eat to limit their time in the cafeteria.

Cooper says investigators will be at the school on Tuesday and they're narrowing the list of suspects responsible.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

The North Cedar School District canceled classes on Monday because of vandalism.Superintendent Mike Cooper says he believes it's connected to a senior prank, but surveillance video will determine that.

"There was no break in, so whoever got it must've had a key to the building. We don't know who it was at this point," said Cooper. "It's that time of the year where sometimes students like to pull what they call senior pranks and those types of things, but there's not evidence that it is our students."

Cooper says the North Cedar High School cafeteria was filled with silage, rotten corn and beans leaving a toxic odor throughout the building forcing a professional cleaning crew to work for hours getting it back to normal.

Sometime between midnight 2 o'clock Monday morning, Cooper says two groups of about 6-8 people total vandalized the inside and outside of the high school.

He says there was no damage to the building and vandals didn't target any other district facilities.

However he says the strong, toxic odor left from the rotten corn and beans forced him to call off classes.

"Basically it's silage. It's rotten corn, has a terrible smell to it, it's very toxic and the safety of our students here in the district is always our first priority," said Cooper.

Cooper says the vandals also TP'd the outside with toilet paper and yellow police tape.

The building and grounds director is the one who first noticed the mess just before six Monday morning and immediately called Cooper.

Cooper says the people were caught on surveillance video, and the Cedar County Sheriff's Office is looking into it.

"They're investigating and hopefully they'll be able to find out who brought the silage in," said Cooper.

Cooper is not sure if students were involved, but says if seniors are involved, consequences might be tough because seniors will graduate Sunday.

He says school board members will have to decide after they determine who's actually behind the vandalism.

Cooper expects the district to have classes Tuesday.

KWWL's Jerry Gallagher, Michael Crowe and Amie Steffeneicher contributed to this story.

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