School building severely vandalized

Published 9:03 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Decatur County Schools Support Center at 507 Martin Street was severely vandalized over the weekend, according to school officials.

It’s not the first time the center—formerly the Performance Learning Center and before that, an elementary school—has been broken into, but the damage left behind was definitely the worst, said Bobby Trawick, who is in charge of educational equity programs for county schools.

According to Trawick, whose office was one of many rooms damaged at the support center, the vandalism occurred sometime between 3:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. Trawick said he had worked for a bit on Sunday and did not see any damage, but when he came to work Monday, he saw an exterior door ajar and knew something was wrong.

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Inside, vandals had done widespread damage across the school, where summer classes for migrant children and other students will begin soon.

“Nothing was taken, they just destroyed a lot,” Trawick said.

In one room, where 30 new computers were waiting to be set up, vandals had hit the computers with hammers and busted five computer monitors, Trawick said. Five more monitors in another office were destroyed. Vandals had sprayed fire extinguisher foam in numerous rooms and “ruined everything,” he said. A filing cabinet had been broken into in the nurse’s office and other offices had been ransacked. Small windows inset into doors throughout the support center were broken by the vandals.

This is the third time the support center has been broken into and vandalized this year, according to Trawick, who said he believes the vandals got in using a defective door to the outside. Both Bainbridge Public Safety officers and Sheriff’s Office investigators visited the support center on Monday and Tuesday to record details about the crime scene and begin investigating who is responsible for the damage, officials for both agencies said.

The support center has a working video surveillance system but school officials will look to replace an outdated alarm system there with a new one, Trawick said. The challenge will be implementing an alarm system that can be used by a number of employees and visitors who enter the school buildings at different times of the day and through different doors, he said.

In 2005, BPS investigators charged five juvenile suspects with burglary after they broke into what was then the Performance Learning Center, vandalized it and took vending machine snacks and bicycles, according to previous reports.