Book not closed on Highland High School grads

A crowd files into Durham Baptist Church for the first of two Highland High School graduation ceremonies Friday night

Students banished from their high school graduation aren't out of the woods just yet when it comes to possible criminal charges.

Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish said his agency is wrapping up its investigation into a Highland High School prank that led to 38 students being forced to sit out Friday's high school graduation.

Parrish said it's highly unlikely that the students will face charges in the early Monday morning incident, but that the decision ultimately rests in the hands of Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Jules DeCoster.

"Our prosecutor will give what the school board has done great weight," Parrish said. "He will take into consideration everything that's gone on and if he decides that these kids have received a fair enough consequence and have honored it without problems, I would not expect for there to be criminal charges."

If the issue does reach the level of criminal prosecution, Parrish said it would likely result in trespassing charges, not burglary charges.

The school board held a special meeting earlier this week and barred the student from attending Friday's graduation ceremony.

The 38 banned students held their own graduation ceremony early Friday night at the Durham Baptist Church in nearby Durham, Mo.

One organizer estimated the church could seat about 250 people, but it was standing room only by the time the event started.

The incident resulted in an increased presence from sheriff's deputies at the official graduation ceremony at Highland High School.

"I don't think people will notice any difference," Parrish said.

Missouri State Highway Patrol officers were also on hand at the official ceremony.