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.”