Tree Cutting Prank Sparks Legal Battle for Central Unified

FRESNO, Calif. The students were kicked out after a "so-called" prank that touched off a legal battle between the students, and their school district.

As a senior prank ... five students say they used a hand-saw to cut down ten-year-old trees located on their high school campus.

They say they realize what they did was wrong and after trying to make amends with the school district they had no other choice but to go to court.

Instead of students -- it was lawyers, and police officers standing in front of Central High School's East Campus Tuesday, after five seniors who were kicked out of school tried to go back to class.

The students were suspended for cutting down two trees in the center of campus.

Nathan Delsid said, "It was a prank against the juniors to take away their shade tree so they wouldn't have anywhere to hang out."

Parents say since they chopped the trees down, the students have performed community service and offered to pay for the damage, but the district will not allow the students to return to their school.

Central Unified Superintendent Mike Berg said, "Students and people in general need to think before they act, what appears to be a small incident can be much greater than that."

The school district didn't think the $75-hundred to $14-thousand dollars in damage was very funny. The teens were sent to an alternative education school until they graduate.

"These students are still enrolled in school. They are still headed for graduation so the student education has not been affected," said Berg.

Ann Chavez said, "When does a tree become more important than an education."

Parents are upset saying the saying the boys are being punished instead of disciplined and they're suing the district saying they did not follow the proper steps to send them to an alternative school.

Attorney Charles Magill said, "They are required by state education code to have a hearing."

Sonia Delsid "We got a ruling from a judge to reinstate these young men because Central Unified did not follow the education code."

However the district has appealed the judge's decision and will not allow them to return to campus until the case is closed.

A civil court hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Downtown Fresno between district administrators, parents and students.

If the court rules in favor of the students they could return to campus as soon as Friday. If not parents say they are willing to fight this as far as they have to go.

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