Vandals broke into Darrington schools over the weekend. They caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage at the elementary school, and lesser damage at the high school. (Courtesy of Darrington School District)

Young vandals cause $500K in damage to Darrington schools

DARRINGTON — The school district here is estimating juveniles caused $500,000 in damage at the elementary and high schools over the weekend.

The vandals, ages 10 to 14, broke in and trashed the elementary. There was lesser damage at the high school.

Photos show shattered windows and floors littered with glass. Furniture was tipped over and fire extinguishers discharged throughout the school. It appears the vandals put an extinguisher through a fish tank near the front office, and plugged up a sink left running to flood. Nearly every interior window — big windows around the office and library, and small windows in classroom doors — was broken. The vandals are believed to have gained access by breaking through an exterior window.

The vandalism was first reported when maintenance and custodial staff arrived at work around 6 a.m. Monday.

Two girls, ages 13 and 14, and one boy, 10, were identified as suspects, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies are investigating. The 13-year-old was taken to Denney Juvenile Justice Center on Monday, and the other two were released to family.

Insurance is expected to cover repairs. Initial damage estimates total $500,000. It’ll take time to determine an exact figure, district business manager McKenzie Boyd said.

The message the district has received from law enforcement and insurance adjusters is that this is “beyond the scope of what they’ve seen,” she said. It’s a massive amount for any school, but hits especially hard in a small town. Darrington has one campus shared by the elementary and high school.

It’s unclear whether campus security will be tightened. Based on the damage, officials believe the vandals were in the building for maybe six hours over the weekend, undetected.

“We’re definitely talking about what we can do to prevent this type of thing in the future,” Boyd said. “Those conversations are very preliminary. We’re focused right now on the clean-up and getting the school open by Sept. 6.”

It won’t be easy. Teachers cannot yet get into their classrooms because of the broken glass and powder from fire extinguishers. The district is bringing in professional clean-up and repair crews. The goal is to let teachers in as soon as possible, but much depends on how quickly windows and other damaged property can be replaced.

Cleanup of the debris began Monday evening. Cleaning up the flooding was the first priority, to prevent further damage, Boyd said.

The high school was not as badly damaged as the elementary. Vandalism there was concentrated around the office and art room.

Volunteers are not needed for clean-up, Boyd said. It must be handled by professionals.

“We’re definitely hearing from the community and people that are offering help and support, which is appreciated,” Boyd said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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