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Mount Washington School Copes with Vandalism, Ponders Deterrence

Parents pitch in to install a new awning vandalized in August, as vandals wreck another outdoor patio.

Parents of a fifth-grade class at Mount Washington Elementary School have pitched in funds to install a new awning over an outdoor patio that was vandalized in August, and school Principal Elizabeth Valentino has been considering the possibility of installing surveillance cameras on campus after a second incident of vandalism occurred last month.

The parents collected around $120 to put up the new awning outside the fifth-grade classroom of Ms. Cynthia M. Lowery late last month. The 18' x 15'-4" (276 sq. ft.) shade cost $217.85—$69.53 of which was a contribution from Ms. Lowery, according to Doug Young, one of the parents.

“We hope to raise the rest shortly,” Young said. “The new shade was designed to provide better visual surveillance of the shaded area, being raised higher on the open side, and is higher overall, hopefully reducing the ease with which it could be vandalized again.”

Less than two weeks before the new awning was installed on Sept. 29, unknown vandals broke into the outdoor patio of the school’s Parents’ Center and ripped apart wooden cabinets constructed by PTA members for storing events-related materials.

“Nothing costly or valuable was lost, but the cabinets were certainly well constructed and padlocked,” Valentino told Patch last week. “The doors were ripped off the hinges.”

What’s surprising about the latest round of vandalism on the school campus, which occurred on the three-day Rosh Hashana weekend in mid-September, is that the Parents’ Center patio is walled.

“You can’t visually see it unless you’re in it,” Valentino explained. Neither school staff nor school police have any leads about who’s behind the vandalism, she said.

What seems clear, however, is that whoever the vandals are, “they have to be tall enough and strong enough to do the damage.” Valentino said.

“We also have people who hop the fence and come here for skateboarding,” she said. “Those would be my first suspects.”

Because the damage wasn’t severe enough for school police to do any fingerprinting, according to Valentino, it’s unlikely the vandals will be caught anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Young has suggested that the school install a video surveillance system—“or at least an obviously placed dummy system”—to further deter vandals. Funds for the system could come from the PTA, the Friends of Mountain Washington School or  the School Site Council, he proposed.

“It’s certainly an option,” Principal Valentino said of the idea. “That’s something we can explore.”

At the very least, Valentino wants increased action from school police.

“The police remedy was to do more patrols” around the campus, she said. “But I want them to come into the campus.”

Jason October 15, 2012 at 03:47 PM
They'll deny it and say something about "learning to fish"...
bellref October 15, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Time to raise $$ for a surveillance camera system.
Baird Martin October 16, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I got a Sig Sauer P226 9mm that may be able to help deter vandals.
Patrick O'Brien December 06, 2012 at 10:05 AM
I'm still wondering about my donation of my Sturdymarky! brand human face models. I donated (15) of them to Elizabeth Valentino months ago. I was ready to participate with announcing what they are about, with the art students and art teachers, but got no thanks, no response. Then tonight I stopped by to talk to Elizabeth Valentino. She acted rude and practically pushed me away. Here I had donated something, that costs $30.00 each in stores, made of wood, in mini-sculpture form, fifteen of them, and I got no feedback about them. I'm having a lot of difficulty understanding the slowness and flakiness of the politics in the public school system. I also donated (200) of these to John Burroughs middle school on McCadden Place in Hancock Park, and they flaked away like the world owes them something. It was about feedback. It was about me helping explain how they are used. It is and was about absolute creative fun and learning. It really hurts when you do something good for the world, and then there is no appreciation. I felt like Elizabeth Valentino stepped on me tonight emotionally. She acted paranoid saying to her young child ''close the door, no one else is here.'' The janitor was standing right there. Elizabeth Valentino has my business card. She was acting deceptive. It's already patented, trademarked, and copyrighted. If I was in kindergarten or grammar school, I would be so happy to meet someone like me with so many gifts to share for the sake of learning and growing.
Patrick O'Brien February 22, 2013 at 03:52 AM
However we at Sturdymarky! were feeling then, is history, sorry if we were critical of anyone. At least now Sturdymarky! has the goal of making these human face models for as many grammar schools as possible for specialized Sturdymarky! art workshops, in America and internationally, three times a year, in the fall, the spring, and for summer school times for the kids. We at Sturdymarky! just have to plan these workshops better, way in advance with each school, including charter schools and private schools, and make things clearer with the politics at each school, so that we can make sure that this happens gracefully, to achieve the main goal, to let the kids have fun creating together, with plenty of cookies and milk too. These Sturdymarky! "creating onto the human face model" workshops are and always will be the coolest cultural event for kids all around the world to do and remember with their created-onto human face models. Sincerely, Patrick O'Brien & the staff at Sturdymarky! brand arts and crafts items.

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