June 1, 2006 — Students at Charlotte Amalie High School were dismissed from classes Thursday morning after they arrived on campus and found that portions of the school had been vandalized.
According to CAHS Principal Jeanette Smith, the vandals had tagged the school's front steps with graffiti, spilled a "foul-smelling" liquid in some of the main hallways and damaged some of the hand-painted murals on campus.
"The biggest problem is that we don't know what kind of substance was used in the halls and around the other portions of the school," she said. "But whatever it was, it created some really noxious fumes."
When contacted late Thursday afternoon, V.I. Fire Services spokesman Donald Charles said the liquid appeared to be "sludge from a trash compactor or garbage truck." He said the services' hazardous materials team came to investigate the incident around 8:45 Thursday morning and left after noon.
When contacted Thursday, police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Hannah said fumes caused by the sludge affected two CAHS teachers, who were rushed to Schneider Regional Medical Center for treatment.
Smith said the incident created an "unfortunate delay" for students, who are in the middle of taking their final exams and preparing to wrap up the school year. "Fortunately, we were able to take care of enough of the damage so that the seniors could come in and take their finals," she said, adding that she expects regular classes to resume on Friday.
When asked, Smith said she did not know who committed the acts of vandalism. On the school's front steps, however, the tag reads, "Devil Rays Class of 2006."
"I really don't know if people think this is funny," she said. "To me it's just ridiculous."
Hannah also said police do not have any leads, but an investigation is ongoing into the incident.
He said if suspects are apprehended, they could be charged with malicious mischief, vandalism or damage to government property.
Hannah added that if the perpetrators are students, they would be charged as minors. He also said that CAHS officials said a similar incident recently occurred at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.
No one from Kean returned phone calls made by the Source Thursday to discuss the matter.
In a press release issued Thursday by the V.I. Education Department, Dr. Emily Carter, superintendent of schools for the St. Thomas-St. John district, said, "I am shocked, appalled and dismayed that anyone in this community would see fit to deface school property and possibly endanger the health of our students and staff. Parents, school personnel, students and the general community can be assured that student safety is a priority, and that we, at the district, are doing all that we possibly can to avoid further acts such as these."
Carter added that she hopes perpetrators are caught and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
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