Saturday, May 26, 2001

'Prank' to cost schools

Campbell Co. bus vandalism may mean $10K lost

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ALEXANDRIA - Students in Campbell County Schools will be in class a day longer than expected after flattened bus tires shut down schools Friday morning.

        Vandals damaged 80 tire valve stems, taking out 40 of the district's 54 buses and forcing school officials to cancel classes.

[photo] Jim Rascoe of Fleet Tire Service in Covington prepares to reinflate one of about 80 Campbell County school bus tires damaged by vandals.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “There was no way to get them fixed and on the road in time to pick up kids,” Transportation Director Mike Dawson said. “We've never had anything of this magnitude.”

        Classes will resume on Tuesday, pushing the last day of school back to Thursday instead of Wednesday.

        Bus mechanics discovered the damage about 5 a.m. at the district's garage on Orchard Lane. Vandals had cut and done other damage to the metal valve stems.

        All the valve stems and a few tires will have to be replaced, Mr. Dawson said. District officials estimate the repairs to cost $5,000 to $10,000, mostly for labor. The total will depend on how many tires, $145 to $175 each, must be replaced.

        “This is a pretty expensive prank,” Mr. Dawson said.

   A dozen seniors accused of dumping a load of pig manure at Stephen T. Badin High School last week will head to Hamilton Municipal or Butler County Juvenile courts next week.
   Ten of the students will appear in Municipal Court Wednesday afternoon under misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing or complicity to criminal damaging. The other two will appear on the same charges in juvenile court that afternoon.
   Early May 16, students threw manure on the doors and light fixtures and also shot paintballs at the school, damaging front doors and breaking some lighting fixtures, police said.
   Damage has been estimated at $1,200 to $1,500.
   The students involved served three days of in-school suspension.
        About 90 percent of the district's 4,600 students ride buses to school. The county's 2,000 parochial students also share the district's buses.

        Some of the county's six parochial schools closed Friday, while others asked students to get their own transportation.

        Vandals struck two other Tristate schools last week.

        On May 18, Indian Hill High School was vandalized with graffiti and tires on 25 of the district's buses were deflated, causing schools to close. Four teens were arrested this week.

        May 16, students dumped pig manure in and around Badin High School in Hamilton. Twelve students were charged in that incident.

        Alexandria police have five suspects in Friday's incident, all Campbell County middle and high school students. They could face misdemeanor criminal mischief charges.

        If students are responsible, they also face expulsion, district officials said.

        This was the second time this year vandals have struck Campbell County Schools. In February, obscene comments were spray-painted on the high school after seniors were told they had to redo writing portfolios because of teachers' errors.

        While schools often expect some end-of-the-year pranks, damaging bus tires is going overboard, said Chris Gramke, a spokesman for the district. “We've never seen anything this destructive.”

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