Classes Cancelled After Guam High School Vandalized

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Superintendent: Suspects likely ‘familiar with the school’

By Malorie Paine

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 7, 2014) – Classes at George Washington High School were canceled yesterday after the main office, gym office and several classrooms and hallways were vandalized Wednesday night.

Guam Department of Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez said it was disappointing to see another school vandalized, referring to other break-ins that have occurred at public schools this year.

Fernandez said GW High's campus is large, and there "was a purpose to the reckless destruction." The people were familiar with the school, he said.

No items were stolen, and it appeared as though the vandals were looking for cash, Fernandez said.

Guam Police Department responded yesterday morning to a call from GW High and conducted an investigation of the school.

The glass of trophy cases in the main office was broken and furniture and decorations were strewn across the office.

Police were called to make sure there is a record of all damage and any missing equipment, Fernandez said. The education department receives federal money, so a list of any damage has to be recorded because of the funding.

"We want to find whoever did this. It doesn't seem to be random," Fernandez said.

The vandals went to the box where keys to the school are stored and removed keys to various rooms, Fernandez said. Keys were found across the campus, and locks will need to be changed.

Some keys were recovered during the campus cleanup.

Most classrooms were untouched, but school officials chose to cancel school for the day. There was damage around the school, and investigators needed to ensure students wouldn't interfere with it. Students will have to make up the day, but a make-up day hasn't been scheduled.

Fernandez said there will be an overnight presence at the school through the weekend.

The buses for GW High also are used to take elementary school students to school. Because the buses dropping students at the high school had already picked up students, the buses had to take students back home. This delayed buses picking up elementary students.

Legislature

Speaker Judith Won Pat, D-Inarajan, yesterday sent letters regarding the break-in to both GPD and Department of Administration. Those letters also were sent to members of the media.

In a letter to Police Chief Fred Bordallo, Won Pat requested an update on a police department volunteer group. Legislation that was signed into law in May 2012 gives the police chief authority to recruit volunteers in order to patrol schools during non-school hours.

Bordallo said yesterday that the group Won Pat referred to in her letter, the Guam Police Department Community Assisted Policing Effort, currently does not patrol public schools. Rather, members of the department's Civilian Volunteer Police Reserve assist actual officers with that task.

The chief said officers, as part of their regular duties, check commercial establishments, schools and other government facilities, during their patrols.

The chief said CAPE now has about 15 members. Many of those who were in the group, Bordallo said, have become civilian reserve officers.

Bordallo said he would meet with Fernandez soon to discuss the school break-ins and go over crime statistics concerning the break-ins with the superintendent.

The chief said suspects have been apprehended in past school break-in cases. "Individuals were identified and admitted to the break-in of some schools," he said.

He confirmed that those involved were juveniles.

In her letter to DOA, Won Pat stated funding for security systems had been appropriated with the passage of legislation. Won Pat asked for an update on procuring the funds.

Fernandez said the vandalism will not prevent today's parent-teacher conferences from happening.

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