By Madilyn Ruiter
Lamoille Union High School has seen an unusually large amount of vandalism in the 2018-2019 school year, leading the school administration to offer cash rewards for students who have information about the incidents.
When asked about the amount of vandalism this year compared to years past, Mark Collins, a janitor at LUHS, said it seems unusually high.
Past years have been “nothing like this, I mean it happens here and there but nothing like this year,” said Collins.
Dylan LaFlam, the District Facilities Director, agreed with Collins, “This year seems to be the worst year for vandalism we’ve ever had.”
According to Principal Brian Schaffer, the recent rise in vandalism activity is due to students trying to let their anger out. “Breaking a paper towel dispenser is easier than talking to another person,” said Schaffer.
Schaffer also said that students might feel excluded in the school environment and might act out, resulting in vandalism.
According to Collins, all the boys bathrooms have had some sort of vandalism since the beginning of the year, except the ones by the office. When asked what type of vandalism has been occuring, Collins said that “anything that’s attached to the wall” has been damaged.
Collins also stated that Juuls and Juul pods are always found too. “Oh all the time, everyday. [Juul pods] are just thrown on the floor or in the toilets.”
The vandalism that had occured during this school year so far has not included any hate crime, according to Schaffer. The things that have been destroyed are soap dispensers, paper towel holders, and mirrors. Collins said that it is mainly the Boys’ bathrooms enduring the vandalization.
According to LaFlam the damage costs have been pretty high also. “I think it’s going to be between $2,500 and $3,000 [in damage] this year so far.”
One of Schaffer’s solutions for the vandalism is to engage in more more restorative circles, so students feel like they have someone to talk. Restorative circles create an environment where students can talk things out and feel included.
Schaffer also said that he wanted students to work things out through discussion, talking about an individual’s behavior and how it impacts the schools community and other students. This requires everyone to get more engaged and involved.
Regarding the reward offered to anyone who could name a perpetrator in the vandalism scenarios Schaffer said he did it to put the “spotlight” on the issue and “stir” conversations. The reward was posted to encourage students to speak up.
Schaffer said there was no set amount to the reward, it depended on what information a witness had.
An anonymous student told us that he did receive a reward for reporting vandalism that occurred earlier this month. When asked the amount he received he said, “I’m not allowed to disclose that.” The event that the anonymous student described was paper towels being put in the toilet, and the holders being ripped off the wall.
There were other tactics used to find out who vandalized the school, Schaffer said, such as video footage and teacher witnesses during passing periods and class cut records.
LaFlam also mentioned that all the bathrooms in the school are being checked on by faculty every hour.
Specific incidents are still under investigation, and Schaffer said that he believed a handful of students were involved in the vandalizing. He also said that all damage done has been repaired quickly.