5 juveniles confess to Santa Monica school vandalism

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Five juveniles have confessed to trashing John Muir Elementary School in Santa Monica after tips, including social media posts, identified them, according to police.

The juveniles involved in Saturday's incident were ages 11-13, Santa Monica police said. Three of them also caused some damage at Will Rogers Learning Community and Roosevelt Elementary School on the same night. Four of the students are current students in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District schools. One is not from the area.

"Violations of Education Code and Penal Code are under review and students will receive discipline and consequences as appropriate for these crimes," a press release from Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati stated.

He also said there is no evidence that this was a hate crime.

School employees found a swath of destruction that scars the school's library, cafeteria and several classrooms. Vandals broke into the school, which ironically shares a campus with the Santa Monica Alternative School House, nicknamed SMASH.

"Fire extinguishers were sprayed all over, we have sinks that were flooded, book cases that were knocked over and we have had some paint that was splattered on the exterior of the school," said Gail Pinsker, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. "Tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage."

But the price of this vandalism is more than just financial. Parents and teachers are concerned about the emotional toll on the students.

"My son was actually really bothered," said Muir parent Maria Rodriguez. "My neighbor also comes here. He was crying. It wasn't good."

"You want them to continue their education and not be fearful of going to school," said Debra Holbert. "And then these types of things happen."

A school district official said the damage is so bad, some classrooms are closed, and with three days of school left, some students had to be shifted to other spots throughout the campus.

This is the third time the school has been vandalized this year.
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