Canutillo ISD punished students for breaking laws during senior challenge
EL PASO, Texas (CBS4) —
The Canutillo Independent School District said Tuesday that students are being punished for participating in the illegal challenges put on a list we first told you about on Monday.
The senior challenge that students are engaging in, involves 101 things students must do to gain points. Those who complete the challenge allegedly win money.
Canutillo High School senior Hazel Roldan said she became the target of bullying because one of the challenges says to jump over a little person. She is the only little person, or dwarf, on campus.
After Monday’s story aired, Hazel said, the bullying got worse but now it seems that the administration and police are finally taking action.
Students we spoke to didn’t seem to see anything wrong with the challenge.
“I think it’s just seniors enjoying their last year,” said Andrew Gallegos.
“Seniors are being seniors, you know?” Orlando Montejano said.
“I think it was blown out of proportion,” Monick Herren said.
“I think it’s unfortunate that they put some things on there that were illegal,” Monique Whetten said.
Things such as smoking marijuana in class, flashing a random stranger and stealing a security guard’s bike were on the list.
“It’s probably not something they should be doing,” said a parent who wanted to remain anonymous.
The district again declined an on-camera interview on Tuesday but sent another statement that says:
“A few students have been placed in the district alternative education program for breaking school rules. The principal used the district’s callout system to call all parents of seniors last week to warn them about the consequences of dangerous and illegal behavior.”
Principal Teresa Clapsaddle also used the in-school intercom system to announce the consequences.
Clapsaddle has been criticized for her choice of words in a text message sent out to students about the challenge.
In the text message, the principal singled out and named Hazel Roldan as the little person being targeted. Clapsaddle also approved challenge No. 8 – a water balloon fight.
On Tuesday, students defended her.
“She is a really good principal,” Whetten said.
Another student said, "Our principal loves and cares about us. And she does take care of us. It’s the students that are mean.”
El Paso police said anyone who is caught breaking the law as part of a school challenge will face charges.
When speaking to students Tuesday, they said the challenge is over and what was originally estimated to be a $6,000 winning pot is now around $800.
We contacted other local school districts to ask about their policies regarding these types of challenges.
The Socorro Independent School District said it has a conversation with its students and addresses what proper behavior is expected, according to the student code of conduct. If students are caught doing anything illegal, they are held accountable. If students are disciplined, they cannot participate in graduation ceremonies.
The El Paso Independent School District said it doesn’t have a specific policy against senior pranks but it does have a student code of conduct that students need to follow when on campus or at a school event. If students do things off campus, they have no jurisdiction, unless bullying is involved, in which case the district is allowed to step in.
We are waiting to hear back from the Ysleta Independent School District.