- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Mason City police charged two teenagers with felonies for stripping the bark off a tree near an elementary school.

The stepbrothers, ages 13 and 14, were charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a felony, the Globe Gazette in Mason City reported (https://bit.ly/1lyIfFP ).

Police said about 4 to 5 feet of bark was stripped all around the tree’s trunk on Aug. 5 near Roosevelt Elementary and that it will likely die. A neighbor saw the teens removing the bark and called police.

Police Sgt. Dave Houser said charges were based on the dollar amount to remove and replace the tree, which one tree service company said would be nearly $1,200.

The mother of one of the boys said the punishment is too extreme, even if the charge drops off his criminal record once he turns 18. The Associated Press typically doesn’t identify minors charged with crimes.

One of the boys has not been disciplined by the Mason City Community Schools district, but, she said, the other teen received a letter saying he was suspended from all extracurricular activities for almost a month.

She also said another tree service quoted damage at $475, which is under the dollar amount for felony charges. She said she thinks school officials could have discussed other options such as community service instead of the felony charges.

Juvenile Court Services told her that the charges will be handled “informally” and that she can submit the lower estimate.

The school district said in a statement that it is working closely with Mason City police and families through the process.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, https://www.globegazette.com/


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