Malicious damage to our schools | Eastern North Carolina Now

Accepting the unacceptable makes the unacceptable acceptable


By:  Hood Richardson

Both social and public media have bandied about the damage done to the Washington High School cafeteria area recently, allegedly by graduating seniors. Very little information has been given to the public by Beaufort County Schools officials.  Almost all of the information the public has could be called gossip.

At the risk of being in error, here is what I have heard from several sources.  A break-in occurred at night with security cameras running.  Someone acquired a key from a school official to gain entry.  Tables and furniture were destroyed, with damage also to wall coverings.  Cooking oil was poured on the floors.  There was other damage.  The damage cost was estimated to be as high as $15,000.

The Beaufort County School System made a decision not to report this criminal activity to the Washington Police or the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department.  This decision tells a lot about the character of these officials because public officials have the fiduciary duty to protect the public property in their care and to report criminal behavior.   In my opinion, school officials have no protection for their failure to follow the law. There were 57 graduating students identified.  The school system decided the appropriate punishment is to not allow these students to walk across the stage to get their diploma.  Their diploma will be mailed to them.  This is a slap on the wrist.

There are a host of issues about school board management, if what I have reported and what the School System has not reported, are accurate.

A conscious decision by the School Board and their employees not to report criminal activity and willful property damage to law enforcement raises serious questions about their integrity and dedication to their elected and appointed offices.  The knowledge of criminal behavior regardless of the age of the perpetrator should always be reported to law enforcement.  How much other criminal activity has gone un-reported,  un-enforced and winked at.  Such slack school administration sends strong messages to young minds.

We know there are serious problems with discipline in Washington High School.  This is evidenced by the number of people who have held the Principal’s job during the past several years.  High rates of turn over usually indicate weak and unsure management.  Discipline problems and criminal acts indicate a failure on the part of school administrators and their superiors to enforce and teach non-criminal behavior.  Washington High School had four years to instill a sense of acceptable behavior in these students.  The education system failed our students again.

There is a huge divide between juvenile behavior and criminal activity.  Juveniles make mistakes and make bad judgments.  Criminal activity is hard to define, but, like pornography, is  easily recognized when seen.  No doubt we should proceed in a compassionate way to handle juvenile behavior and with much less compassion in the case of criminal activity on school property where students are old enough to know better.

It is not up to any school employee to cover up criminal behavior.  In researching to write this article I ran into people who believe the school system is a sovereign entity. Something like an Indian Reservation.  There are no limited exclusions from law enforcement on any public property.  When it comes to criminal activity, school officials who cover it up are as guilty as those who commit the crimes.

I am disappointed that the school system did not react in a positive way with press releases informing the public.  A lot of damage was done on social media as rumors spread. A simple statement that the public would be protected would have done wonders. Early on, the School System should have announced that those students involved would be required to pay their proportionate part of the damages to public property. No need to say they would not get a diploma until paid, that would only bring on a lawsuit. A lot of damage is done in prohibiting allowing graduates walk across the stage.  This is a useless and inappropriate punishment that serves no purpose.

I am also concerned that school administration does not understand the use of our legal system.  Management seems to believe their job is to make bad situations look as good as they can by handing out slaps on the wrist for bad behavior.  There are rumors of other criminal activities that have been covered up.  One of the major deterrents to bad behavior is informing the public.  Yes, disclosure to the public is a deterrent.  That sends a message to all the students, their parents and the public as to where the limits are.  Covering up these incidents provides no direction to define good behavior.  Disclosure requires a dedicated school board, superintendent, and staff, especially school administrators, who have a duty to maintain good order and discipline in our schools.

Keeping teachers in the Beaufort County School System is difficult.  The dominant reason any person leaves any job is working conditions.  Teachers must be able to control their classrooms.  Discipline has to be handed out fairly and with certainty.  Halls must be safe.  Students with bad behavior that cannot be corrected should be expelled from the school system.  Some parents should be prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  These statements may cause some fear among some of us. Once the limits of behavior are known a lot of the bad actors will change their behavior.  The School System has to use their legal resources to defend teachers and employees on discipline issues.

I am well aware that all of these ideas cannot be piled on the schools at one time.  However, the School Board should develop a plan to gradually install and enforce behavior standards.  Could the focus start in the 8th grade and gradually move into other grades.  I am also talking about changes that need to be made among the employees of the school system.  Most of them have no idea as to what behavior the School Board is willing to enforce.

Compare what schools should be doing against what they are doing.  Schools should produce students, whether graduating or dropping out, who are honest, considerate of others, educated to the point of being able to write, read, perform basic mathematical functions,  be familiar with our Constitution and Bill of Rights, be able to identify criminal behavior, and be uncontaminated by social and propaganda stigmas.  Social and propaganda stigmas include, but are not limited to. critical race theories, diversity-equity-inclusion theories, sexual identity confusion, racial stigmas, etc.  

There are plenty of basic materials in mathematics, language, true history and civics to occupy 12 years of study.  The basics do not change.  Math books, spelling books, English books, and basic science books do not change that much. These books should be good for 100 years or until completely dilapidated.

The lessons from the handling of the Washington High School incident fly in the face of what schools should be doing.  The lesson to younger students should be: “These Seniors got punished and we should expect the same treatment if we do similar things.”  That lesson is not being taught.  

Several incumbent School Board seats are up for election this fall.  These board members should be replaced with conservative candidates.  The conservative candidates are:  Malissa Polk, District 1 and Stacey Davis, District 5.  There is a contest between incumbent Republican T. W. Allen and unaffiliated candidate David Hudson in District 3.  We need a School Board that will make it clear that school administrators are not to allow vandalism and violations of law in our schools.  Accepting the unacceptable makes the unacceptable acceptable.









Go Back

Leave a Guest Comment

Your Name or Alias
Your Email Address ( your email address will not be published)
Enter Your Comment ( no code or urls allowed, text only please )


Big Bob said:
( June 12th, 2024 @ 9:19 am )
Your dislike for the Cheese-man is well documented. However, you inability to understand how privilege effects us al is astonishing. Aways a nail in search of a hammer.
( June 12th, 2024 @ 4:59 am )
Ol' Bob, we can agree on one thing: Due to a sense of "entitlement", someone felt the need to not only cover their ass; they felt the need to cover several asses.

I'm not Dick Tracy or Batman but it doesn't take long to figure out that, in this situation, 2+2=71. Unless there's been some singing going on or there were incriminating postings dug up on social media, how were the people involved identified? Allegedly, the security system at WHS was disabled could there be facial recognition and identification if the system was disabled?

This is like a bad B-movie that got the Academy Award for Best Picture. I'm perplexed at how the handlers of this situation actually thought the public would be buy such a bullshit cover story?

Somebody's effed up big time on this one, cuz!
Big Bob said:
( June 11th, 2024 @ 12:57 pm )
JS we are in agreement. I’m just pointing out the obvious reason for the hold up.
( June 11th, 2024 @ 12:39 pm )
Shooting from the hip as usual there, Bobbie? Guessing without any knowledge of who is involved. And your far left ideology almost mandates you whining about "privelge" or "entitlement". That is an irrelevent side show. It does not matter who did this, they ought to be punished and made to pay restitution for the damage they caused. Let the chips fall where they may.
Bubba said:
( June 11th, 2024 @ 9:26 am )
Taxpayers should not have to shoulder the cost of this criminal mischief when it is known who did it. I do not trust this superintendant or this school board to do anything to get our money back.
Big Bob said:
( June 11th, 2024 @ 9:04 am )
This type of "prank" reeks of entitlement. I got 10 bucks that says it was done by some kids that mommy and daddy will protect.

Maybe I'm wrong, but the double standard most of BO posters say doesn't exist, exists.
( June 11th, 2024 @ 8:24 am )
Jack, graduating seniors would likely all be 18 or at least most of them, and therefore adults. Privacy laws would not stop them being charged as adults for the criminal activity they engaged in. That alone should be sufficient leverage to at least get them or their families to make restitution for the damage they did. School officials thinking taxpayers should absorb that is an outrage. So is the failure to come clean about what is going on with this matter.
( June 11th, 2024 @ 6:49 am )
If our rubber stamp school board majority allows Cheeseman to continue with his coverup, time will tell nothing.
Big Bob said:
( June 10th, 2024 @ 11:21 pm )
time will tell
( June 10th, 2024 @ 8:16 pm )
Lol I was being facetious
( June 10th, 2024 @ 8:10 pm )
no, you don't, Bobbie. If a staff member gave a key, it is highly unlikely they did it knowing that this damage was intended, but even so they would have culpability because they should not have given a key to a student. If Cheeseman's looking into the matter has led him to know of beleive where the key came from, that person may also be someone Cheeseman wants to cover up for if they are his buddy.

Will - All it takes is one entry point if someone has the key.
( June 10th, 2024 @ 7:54 pm )
So almost 60 people were able to enter and vandalize a school at the same time we are building a new school with limited entry/exit points for “safety concerns”. It seems WHS must be unsafe. When are we gonna build a new one?
View All Comments

Europe swings to the right in EU parliamentary election From The Right, Editorials, Beaufort Observer, Op-Ed & Politics Families Of Israeli Hostages Rip Biden For Trying To Help Hamas: ‘Unacceptable’


Back to Top