GRADUATION suspension

Thursday, May 24th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Imagine reaching the peak of thirteen years of work, only to find you may not reach your goal. It's happening to a Broken Arrow senior. The News on Six received several calls and e-mails about Zach Knoll. KOTV's Tami Marler has the story.

Lots of students are pretty upset about a senior prank that led to a severe penalty that could put one boy's future at risk. Some Broken Arrow seniors are re-living last week's graduation ceremony. And laughing over a senior prank they'll never forget. Josh Ray, Broken Arrow Senior: "Zach fell down, and I saw him and so I stood up, and everybody else stood up so you really couldn't see what was going on." Hannah Clawson, Broken Arrow Senior: "He was just doing it to be funny, and it's not like he was pegging Ms. Lannert in any way, so it's not like he meant to hurt her." But Zach Knoll's pratfall got him into serious trouble. School officials say his prank "willfully endangered students and staff." Even though this videotape shows everyone getting right back into the ceremony. Zach Knoll, Suspended Senior: "I'm accused of staging a fall at the graduation, and for purposely hurting a teacher. The fall that I did, I did plan that." But Knoll says, he never planned to hurt his teacher, and the penalty is too stiff. "Even though I did plan it I don't think I should be suspended for six days for making myself look dumb."

For those six days, Knoll says he gets zero credit. Unless he aces his finals, he might not get his diploma. And he's not the only one getting into trouble. Students showed their support by wearing t-shirts and stickers saying "Bring Zach Back." Teachers put a stop to that. Jared Newcomb, Broken Arrow Senior: "The purpose was just a peaceful demonstration that we were unhappy with the administration." Hannah Clawson: "Even one of the faculty members was like 'you don't have any rights, you're at school.'" And we were like 'oh, okay, here's our stickers, sorry.'"

A spokesperson for Broken Arrow Schools told KOTV, she could only confirm that a student was suspended after last week's graduation. She said a policy to protect student privacy prevents the district from providing any more information. This suspension will go on Knoll's permanent record.