Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Vandals – probably high school seniors – leave thousands in property damage at Williams, other ABSS high schools

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“Senior pranks” prove costly to school system, taxpayers

Alamance-Burlington school system officials are working with local law enforcement to identify the perpetrators who broke into and left thousands of dollars in property damage last Thursday night to Williams High School, as well as other ABSS high schools.

“Pretty much all of the high schools were hit in some way or another,” ABSS public information officer Les Atkins said Tuesday in an interview with The Alamance News.

ABSS officials have described the damage – which consisted of pouring cement mix into toilets and urinals, overturning desks, egging the buildings, turning over trash cans, and other acts of vandalism at every high school – as “senior pranks.”

Atkins confirmed for the newspaper that all of the high schools are equipped with security cameras, and that the alleged perpetrators were captured on the security cameras at Cummings, Eastern, Graham, Western, and Southern High School.  Williams High School is believed at this point to have sustained the most damage, currently estimated at more than $4,000, Atkins said.

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“All of this takes resources to clean up; we had 17 maintenance workers at Williams on Friday,” the PIO said in the interview.  In part, vandals damaged eight toilets and six urinals at Williams High School last Thursday night, Atkins said.

“I think a lot of times students think this is some sort of rite of passage to celebrate the end of high school,” he told the newspaper.  “It leads to disruptive consequences… Perhaps the money your parents gave you, or you somehow earned, to go buy cement or toilet paper could have been better used.  There are other ways to leave your mark than that.”

The toilets and urinals that were damaged at Williams High School were new and only recently installed as part of the renovations funded by the $150 million bond package that voters approved for ABSS in 2018, according to Atkins.

The Burlington police department is currently investigating to determine how vandals broke into Williams High School, Atkins said.  “They were caught on camera; all names were turned over to the Burlington police [department] – they are handling that part of it.”

Atkins said that the names of the vandals who broke into and caused damages to property at Cummings, Eastern, Graham, Southern, and Western high schools have been turned over to law enforcement in those jurisdictions, as well.

“If they are underclassmen, they will be long-term suspended,” Atkins said Tuesday, when asked about the potential ramifications within ABSS for any perpetrators who are later charged and convicted in connection with the break-ins and property damage.  “If they are seniors, they will not be allowed to participate in any graduation ceremony.”

Any seniors who are scheduled to graduate this month – and are found to have participated in the vandalism – either can request to have their diplomas mailed to them, the PIO said, or pick them up, but not at the graduation ceremony.

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