Littlestown Area School District has been dealing with its share of vandalism in response to challenges posted to social media.

In the past few weeks, students have climbed on the school roof after hours, graffitied buildings and caused destruction in bathrooms, according to an email sent to parents Oct. 6 by Littlestown Superintendent Chris Bigger. The board briefly spoke about the incidents during Monday’s study session.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 3, someone entered more than 15 district vehicles and discharged fire extinguishers inside the busses and vans, Bigger said.

On Oct. 6, police arrested Carter Davenport, 19, of Littlestown, as well as three minors in relation to the incident, Bigger said. All four were charged with institutional vandalism, defiant trespass, theft from a motor vehicle and criminal conspiracy.

“TikTok and Social Media challenges encouraging individuals to break the law or injure themselves must stop now,” Bigger wrote in the email to the school community. “Thank goodness our wonderful bus drivers and transportation employees are acting swiftly to remediate a situation that could have easily closed school.”

The incidents, described to be following a national pattern, cost district employees time and taxpayers money, he said. Insurance is covering the cost of the destruction beyond the deductible, he said. The district replaced the fire extinguishers Sunday, estimating the total cost of bus restoration to be a little more than $10,000, said Bigger.

Police Chief Charles Kellar said there have only been a few other incidents involving vandalism in the school, and students have been charged when caught. Graffiti incidents have not included any “hateful” messaging, he said.

Bigger asked parents to speak with their children about resisting the temptation to break the law or potentially cause self harm through social media challenges.

“All individuals involved will be charged to the fullest extent possible by law,” he wrote. “Any future acts against school persons or property will be investigated swiftly and prosecuted completely within the law. This must stop now!”

FID Days return

In response to parent surveys last spring, the district will continue to use Flexible Instructional Days (FID) on days when inclement weather derails a normal school schedule, Bigger said.

For up to five days in a school year, FIDs provide districts an alternative approach to deliver instruction when it is prevented in a customary manner, typically in the form of pre-planned online instruction sessions. Iinstruction will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during FID.

“This will allow students to focus on academics for a shorter amount of time and still get in a snow day,” Bigger said.

Teachers may come to the office or work from home during this time and will fill the remainder of the seven-and-a-half-hour workday with professional development or student support, Bigger said.

Meakin, Laux honored

Two long-term administrators were honored for their service to the district during Monday’s meeting.

“It’s been an absolute honor to be a principal at Littlestown High School,” Meakin said. “I never shied away from making difficult decisions. Sometimes they’re popular and sometimes they’re unpopular but always tried to do what is best for the staff and students. I want to thank everyone for the support over the last 12 years.”

Said Laux: “I was a kid when I got here, but all the relationships I’ve built, from teachers, to kids, to adults has built me into the man, athletic director and person I am today…. There will always be a little bit of Thunderbolt in my heart. Thanks for the opportunity. It’s been an honor.”

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