School closed due to vandalism

May 12, 2008 2:54:08 PM PDT
There were no classes Monday at a south suburban middle school that was vandalized over the weekend.Someone ransacked the media room and left graffiti on walls and lockers at Southwood Middle School in Country Club Hills. Teachers and students will return Tuesday.

The damage was extensive. In addition the physical damage, there's also a thick layer of fire extinguisher residue in many areas of the school, which is part of the reason why they closed.

Computers were smashed and bookcases turned over in the library, some of that has been cleaned up, but school district officials estimate damage at well over $70,000. They say this is not the first time this has happened. There was another incident recently.

"Same kind of thing, vandalized the media center once again and went to the classrooms and turned things over, topsy-turvy," said Denise Peaks, Country Club Hills School Dist. 160.

Because of the ongoing clean-up efforts, classes were canceled and students were taken to nearby facilities. Those that usually walk home were bused back.

"We had the kids in the gymnasium over there, they basically were, had movies for them to watch. It was kind of waiting for the parents co come and pick them up," said Tom Ellement, teacher.

Classes resume Tuesday, but the police investigation continues into who was responsible for the vandalism.

"I would like to think that our students here have more pride and dignity and character for the school than that. So, I would like to think not, that it wasn't our students," said Peaks.

"Libraries are, are special to me. It just made me angry to see the damage that whoever it was did to this school," said Ellement.

The school has security cameras but they were not operational, so there's no surveillance footage of the incident. Police were still collecting evidence. They've not made any arrest, they have not narrowed it down to suspects. They don't believe it was the same people responsible for that first case of vandalism a couple of months ago.

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