Rampant Vandalism

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n recent months, letters have been torn down repeatedly from the welcoming sign in the lobby of Marple Newtown Senior High School, making it not so welcoming.

School officials say they have forgone replacing the bright-metal pieces, which cost about $40 each. Instead, a maintenance worker has been fashioning cheaper ones out of wood and painting them gray.

The culprits, some officials say, are students who have also been vandalizing the Newtown Square school's bathrooms, parking lot, and newly renovated classrooms during school hours.

School Board Vice President Mike Devine said he wanted the incidents - which include sinks ripped from bathroom walls, ugly messages scrawled outside the auditorium, and more than 25 brand-new lockers kicked in - to stop.

At a recent school board meeting, Devine asked the administration to investigate the incidents and report back to the board's facilities and technology committee.

"I think things like this shouldn't be happening when the building is full of people, no less teachers and administrators," Devine said yesterday.

"They ought to hear lockers being kicked in right outside their classroom door. There is obviously something wrong with the supervision," he said.

Acting Superintendent Michael H. Leonard said: "We are looking at that information and how we handle security in the building. If there is anything that needs to be done, we'll make sure it gets corrected." He said the administration would discuss its findings when the committee meets next month.

Even before the school year began, vandals targeted new security fixtures in the school's parking lot. The same day a guardhouse was installed in September, all of its four windows were smashed and the arms of new parking gates were snapped off.

Since then, tire treadles laid to prevent students from leaving during the school day have been flattened with duct tape, as recently as two weeks ago.

District operations director Bill Gasior said he...
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