Tuesday, October 25, 2016

$300,000 in damage to new Roosevelt High School building blamed on vandalism by visiting teens during basketball camp

Flooded hallway in Roosevelt High School (Courtsey of Portland Public Schools)
By Bethany Barnes | The Oregonian/OregonLive
 updated October 25, 2016 at 12:09 PM

Late one Saturday night, Roosevelt High School's basketball coach made a horrifying discovery: Water gushing through multiple floors of the school's brand new wing.

For more than two hours, water had been coursing through the North Portland school's new hallways, down its elevator shaft, into office spaces and classrooms.

The Oct. 15 flooding means six classrooms and six bathrooms are now unusable for at least weeks, Roosevelt Principal Filip Hristic said.

Now there's science in a food pantry. Another class is stuck in a conference room.

The estimated $300,000 in damage is being attributed to visiting teens.

Video surveillance footage shows teenagers in jerseys — seemingly part of a basketball camp the school hosted — turning on an emergency shower in a science room, defacing a whiteboard with vulgar language and spraying a fire extinguisher in the classroom, Hristic said.

Hristic said after viewing the footage multiple times he's positive the students don't go to Roosevelt and that the damage was intentional.

It's a huge setback for a school that has been in upheaval since spring 2015 while construction crews work on a $92 million bond-funded rebuild of the school.

In August, students and teachers were rewarded for some of the discomfort with the now damaged wing's opening.

"It's a new building, it's a new space, a space we can be proud of," said Joel Hanawalt, who teaches in the science room where the crime occurred. "It's two steps forward and one step back. This is a challenge, but it's a temporary challenge."

The students don't like being in the food pantry — it's a bit cold and doesn't have a lot of natural light due to being in the basement — but the upside is it has a counter top and a sink, so experiments are still possible, he said.

"There really is no way to do a science experiment in a library," he said. "I got down there and thought 'Great I can do an experiment."

But there was still some disappointment to come. After he saw the space could work, he found out the vandals had sprayed the fire extinguisher over all the science equipment.

Now he's waiting for the equipment to be cleaned and adjusting lesson plans to work around hands-on activities.

The district filed a police report. The surveillance footage has not been released.

"This was very, very difficult. Our teachers are really doing an incredible job," Hristic said. "We literally had to move a teacher into the auxiliary gym on zero notice."