June 6th, 2018 – As the old saying goes “Listing your school for sale is all fun and games until its perceived as a threat and you’re banned from graduation.” Most senior year pranks get off the hook with a simple eye roll from the principal, but one soon-to-be-graduate got a much different reaction.
Kylan Scheele, an 18-year-old senior at Truman High School in Independence, Missouri, listed the school for sale on Craigslist back in May. For anybody in the market, the building would have been a steal at $12,725.
“I wanted to list it really low because people search low to high and I wanted it to be the first thing to pop up,” Scheele said.
The bargain-seekers must have missed the post, but the neighborhood watch folks had their alarm systems buzzing. Amidst a year when more students have been killed in schools than soldiers in combat zones, some people became worried when they read a particular sentence in the Craigslist posting.
Scheele listed the reason for sale was “the loss of students coming up.”
The prankster intended that line to be a reference to seniors leaving because of graduation, not a threat of violence.
“Everyone I know knew it was a joke. All the seniors knew that it was clearly a joke,” Scheele told The Kansas City Star.
The “for sale” posting indeed had several jokes: “next to Walmart for convenience, huge parking lot, great for partygoers looking for somewhere to park, bigger than normal dining room.” The joke, however, fell flat for some people who went on to report the listing. School officials and Independence police launched a full investigation even issuing an emergency subpoena to Craigslist to identify the author, according to district’s spokeswoman Jana Corrie.
#BREAKING: @aclu_mo urging @ISDSchools superintendent to let Kylan Scheele, who listed Truman High for sale as a prank, walk in Saturday’s graduation, adding that the punishment “violates Scheele’s free speech.” The follow up report tonight on @fox4kc at 10pm. @ZacOnTV #fox4kc pic.twitter.com/ruIU88vZ0v
— FOX 4 News (@fox4kc) May 25, 2018
Four days after dipping his toes into the real estate business, Scheele found detectives knocking on his door.
“They said they didn’t find it to be a credible threat,” he said. “They chuckled about it and told me I should probably go and clear it up with the school.”
The school was having none of the chuckling and instead suspended the senior for three days and told him he would not be able to walk at his graduation.
“I posted a harmless ad on Craigslist with no talk of violence at all, and because someone twisted my words and inferred that I might do something to the school, they won’t let me walk at graduation,” Scheele said.
“I was cool with getting the suspension, as long as they would let me go to graduation,” Scheele said. “I have worked hard. I have 3.96 grad point average. I’ve never been suspended, and the first time I get in trouble I can’t walk at graduation. I have waited 13 years to walk at graduation.”
“The advertisement created a substantial and material disruption of the educational environment, and the Independence School District stands by its decision,” the district said in a statement.
Scheele has also doubled down saying he would still pull the prank if given a do-over, but he does think he’d consult a thesaurus before posting.
“I would use a better choice of words to make it blatantly obvious that it was a joke,” he said. “Or I would just write at the end of it: ‘This is a joke.'”