crimesider

72,000 ladybugs released in high school prank, charges ensue

Ladybugs crawl the walls of Chopticon High School in Morganza, Md., following a high school prank that resulted in criminal charges.

CBS affiliate WUSA

MORGANZA, Md. - Some seniors at a Maryland school aren't feeling lucky, despite ladybugs that swarmed the halls.

Six seniors at Chopticon High School and an alumnus are facing charges in connection with a prank that included letting 72,000 ladybugs loose in the school, according to the St. Mary County Sheriff's Office.

One student has even been banned from walking in the school's graduation ceremony.

The Sheriff's Office told WTTG-TV in Washington, D.C. that the students forced open a door to the school early on May 20 and set the bugs -- which were ordered online -- free. An alarm was set off, alerting school officials.

Four minors are charged with burglary, destruction of property and disrupting school activities. Deputies will charge three adults by criminal summons.

Brian Reminga, one of the seniors involved in the prank, has been banned from the graduation ceremony.

"It's everything I've worked 13 years for," Reminga, who admitted having had prior run-ins with the law, told CBS affiliate WUSA.

"It was really wrong and I hope to be able to walk with my class," he continued.

Michael Wyant, director of safety and security for county schools, said officials considered several different factors in deciding how to punish the students. He said they looked at whether the incident represented a danger to students, damaged the school or had cleanup costs.

"We certainly realize senior pranks are expected and normal at this time of year, and we try to be tolerant of that," Wyant said. "But there are boundaries we need to maintain."

In this case, if police had responded instead of school building services staffers, they may not have known it was a prank, Wyant said.

It took seven employees about four hours to clean up the ladybugs, but Wyant said they weren't counting how many were collected. Asked if all the bugs were gone, Wyant said: "No way."