Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 19, 2013

Police searching for school vandals

LANA BELLAMY
CNHI News Service

GRAYSON — Students at East Carter High School spent an atypical morning in the gymnasium Wednesday as they waited on custodians, school staff and Carter board employees to clear away signs of vandalism from the hallways.

Ronnie Dotson, superintendent for the Carter County Board of Education, found himself helping his co-workers clean off fire extinguisher goo out of individual lockers, desks and walls.

The vandals, who have yet to be identified, moved student desks and chairs into the hallways and stairwells and sprayed one of the fire extinguishers and some silly string around the area.

Dotson said he was notified of the incident at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, when the custodians found the mess.

Because of the possibility that the extinguisher's chemicals could aggravate respiratory or asthma problems for some students, they were all kept inside the gym until all grime was cleared away at 10:30 a.m.

Catching the vandals will not be as simple as reviewing security footage on the school’s cameras because, as Dotson explained, the current equipment is old and ineffective.

“Last month we actually looked into updating our camera system. We’ve been quoted and have them ordered, but they haven't come in yet,” he said.

The investigation of the vandalism, being carried out by the Grayson Police Department, is in its beginning stages, but Dotson said after speaking with Police Chief Kevin McDavid Thursday morning, they are confident they will be able to soon identify the responsible person or group involved and employ the appropriate consequences.

“There is potential for a wide array of disciplinary measures that the school can take,” he said.

If the vandals are not students, there are still criminal charges for breaking and entering that may apply, along with defacing public property.

Carter County Board of Education District Personnel Donald Damron assured in a board meeting last May entering school property through unauthorized force will see consequences.

“Breaking and entering is a serious criminal offense that is covered by our discipline policy,” he said.

Assuming the vandals are part of the Carter County students (East Carter or otherwise), they are likely to face punishment tailored to the respective school’s individual policy, as the student handbooks are specific to each institution, not universally distributed through the board.

Dotson said after the incident last May where seniors released crickets in the days before graduation, the board called upon schools to develop their vandalism disciplinary policies.

In a board meeting later that month, Board Chair Bryan Greenhill called for a “black-and-white policy for vandalism” regarding student discipline in the schools.

Dotson does not believe the vandals were motivated by any type of negative opinions toward the high school, but were rather pulling a prank.

“When I go to East Carter High School, I see kids working, now moreso than ever,” he said. “Students are dedicated to learning as much as they can and preparing for college. To my knowledge I don’t know of anyone particularly disgruntled with the school.”

Carter County schools commenced for winter break Thursday afternoon and will resume Jan. 2.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at

lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or

(606) 326-2653.