As the rest of the country gets back to the reality of school and routine after the long summer the six teenagers on trial for the civil rights violation, criminal harassment and stalking of Phoebe Prince are in academic limbo.
Sean Mulveyhill, Kayla Narey and Austin Renaud were all seniors in high school before they were charged with include civil rights violations, criminal harassment and stalking. Mulveyhill and Renaud, who are both 18-years-old, and are also charged with statutory rape.
Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez are all juniors in high school, and therefore minors. They have already had an arraignment in Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court.
The six youngsters are being charged with having relentlessly bullied and victimized Irish freshman Phoebe Prince until she could take no more and committed suicide on January 14 2010. She was 15-years-old and had recently moved from County Clare with her family.
School Superintendent Gus A. Sayer, who oversees the running of South Hadley High School, where all the teens in question attended, has confirmed that the accused will not be starting the new school year on August 31.
Sayer told the Republican, a Massachusetts newspaper, that none of the teens had been expelled but they had been suspended pending a resolution of the Phoebe Prince case. However he declined to comment on the individual students.
Frank E. Flannery, lawyer for Mulveyhill, said that his client had withdrawn from South Hadley High School. Also Colin Keefe, who represents Velazquez and Terrence M. Dunphy, lawyer to Renauds said that their clients remain under suspension.Alfred H. Chamberland said that Mullins was looking for an alternative method to graduate.
Educators in Massachusetts believe that these teenagers are left with very few options. However if they want to continue with their education they will have to earn a high school diploma.
Assistant principal at Northampton High School, Bryan N. Lombardi said that if they applied for a position in a different school now the students might have a chance of getting in.
He said "If they’ve never had a hearing, it’s not on the record…They might sneak in under the radar."
However, it is unlikely that educators, especially in the Massachusetts area have not heard all the details of the Phoebe Prince case including what the accused names are and what crimes they allegedly committed. Also it would be very difficult for any school to accept a student with felonies to their name.
Velazquez's lawyer says that she is trying to keep up with her school work while she is suspended but the school system has denied her request for a tutor.
Renaud's lawyer, Dunphy said that his client feels that he is losing a year of his life waiting for the case to resolved. He said "He’s unable to complete his course of study…If you have to pay an application fee to a (college), you’re just wasting your time and money.”
Dunphy believes that even if these teenagers are cleared of the charges against them they will be stigmatized for their involvement. He said "They’re going to ask you where you got your high school diploma…Bells go off when you say, ‘South Hadley High School.’”
On September 15 the three seniors involved in the case will appear in court. Keefe, a lawyer of one of the accused, believes that there will be no resolution before next year.
He said "We’re far away from any kind of disposition…In the meantime, (Velazquez’) education is in complete limbo.”
The case against the teens was announced at a press conference in March. Northwestern District Attorney, Elizabeth D. Scheibel, brought charges against the six students and knew at the time at the case would bring a great deal of controversy and media coverage with it.
She said "There will be people who believe that no charges should have been brought in this case, and others who will believe these charges do not go far enough."
After investigating the matter she summarized her findings by saying "Their conduct far exceeded the limits of normal teenage relationship-related quarrels.”