Board considers vandalism clause

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By Tris DeRoma

Call it a sign of the times: the Los Alamos School Board is considering a clause in its vandalism policy that will make information-for-reward requests automatic.
Introducing the clause was Board Secretary Matt Williams.
“This to avoid every time that there’s any type of vandalism to having to go create a motion for an award anytime there’s an act of vandalism,” Williams said at the meeting.
Then, Williams said, whenever an event occurs, they will be able to act quickly, as soon as the event occurs. The board won’t have to take a week or two to create a new motion to put out an award. All it has to do is issue a statement.
Williams said they should set a standard $500 reward, and then leave to the board’s discretion if more is needed.
“For extreme vandalism, we can always up it,” he said.
Board Vice President Dr. Kevin Honnell thought it would be good idea. He cited the last two acts of vandalism to school property that occurred in the last several weeks.
One was where three windows were smashed out at the Pajarito Complex, and the most recent being the signs that were spray-painted at the school district’s main offices on Trinity Drive. There have been others too, including vandalism done to the Pueblo Complex on Diamond Drive a few weeks ago.
The worst attack to date however occurred Jan. 25 2013, when vandals spray-painted the entire front of Piñon Elementary with “rude and vulgar” phrases, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gene Schmidt in a press report about the incident.
“We may have lost the element of quick response on the Pajarito Complex… it’s been several weeks. But I think what Mr. Williams is talking about is a way to not have to wait until the next board meeting or call a special meeting in order to respond,” Honnell said.
The board will revisit the issue at the next board meeting while they research the matter further. Board members David Foster and Jim Hall also had questions.
Foster wanted to know if the county already had a similar clause in place.
“It’s a great idea, but I’d hate for it to be redundant,’ he said.
Hall thought it would be best to word the clause in such a way that they can automatically vary the amount of the reward to match the scope of the vandalism. If the vandalism went way beyond the maximum amount, then they would convene to set a fixed amount.
“We have things we’re we get two broken windows, but then we have incidents that result in serious damage. For something that’s really serious, I would want something in the policy that says if someone causes $50,000 worth of damage, we want to offer something more substantial.”