It's been said that there's no such thing as "bad publicity."
And the maxim for journalists: Getting arrested in the line of duty is resume gold.
Which is likely why Paula Pecorella and Nicholas Krauss, both students at West Islip (N.Y.) High School and staffers at its newspaper are smiling since their recent arrests on multiple charges after they got a little enterprising with their notepads.
See, the pair were after a piece for Paw Prints on lax security technology and procedures at West Islip. The New York Times, which published a feature on the students' misadventure, noted that Pecorella and Krauss saw the "folly of the $10 swipe cards offered to West Islip seniors as a way to gain access to the school via the back doors."
More from the Times:
Physical security at West Islip was spotty, the budding reporters believed: the main entrance was effectively wide-open; the back doors had locks, but students could prop them open with sticks or stones; surveillance cameras were antiquated; and the few guards assigned to patrol the perimeter — to make sure students were not cutting class — sometimes simply waved from their cars.
They first tried (successfully) to enter their school.
Next they tried the same thing at a nearby high school...and the jig was up.
The Times details the action:
...Ms. Pecorella and Mr. Krauss drove to North Babylon High School. According to a copy of the unpublished article provided by Ms. Pecorella, this is what happened:
“First, we entered through a set of doors toward the north end of the high school. Upon entering the building, we were immediately intercepted by clearly marked security guards wearing bright orange jackets, who asked for our school identification cards. After a quick excuse that our cards were left in the car, we were escorted back out the doors and were instructed not to re-enter without our cards.”
But re-enter they did.
“When we located a door not protected by security, we were sighted by a passing student who opened the door for us,” their account continued. “Upon entering the building, the next step was to make a full lap around the school as our first subjects had done in West Islip.”
Within moments, the students were stopped by a security guard and taken to the dean’s office, where, Ms. Pecorella said in an interview, the principal told them they “would see the full extent of the security at the school.”
The two were taken by Suffolk County police officers to the First Precinct station in separate cars, searched, photographed and shackled to a table with other prisoners before being freed on $50 bail. They were charged with trespassing, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
That night, they wrote their article together via Skype. But it never ran.
"I committed a crime, but I didn't consider myself to be committing a crime because I didn't have any criminal intent upon entering the school," says Krauss.
In the end the district didn't end up pressing the matter. Krauss accepted an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal" last month, meaning “the charges will be dismissed if there are no rearrests within six months,” his lawyer told the Times.
Pecorella got the same deal earlier this month after a prosecutor told the judge it was offered, in part the Times reports, because of “the very bright future that she does have before her.”
You can watch the local news report of the whole caper right here.