By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Vandalism in the restrooms started being reported at Vandegrift High School last week on September 8 with “very concerning destruction” reported on Thursday as a TikTok trend gained popularity, said Charlie Little, VHS principal.
“Friday (September 10) we had to begin closing restrooms for repairs and cleaning. Friday we also spent the entire day watching video, interviewing witnesses,” Little said. “Every single boys restroom in the school was impacted in some way.”
Mirrors were pulled down, soap dispensers were stolen and other issues, Little said.
“Student leaders helped us out by submitting AAs (anonymous alert system) when they saw something out of place,” Little said. “We assigned consequences to those involved.”
The school bathroom challenge, according to Distractify, is a trend on TikTok that sees students stealing seemingly random items from their schools. The nationwide trend started with bathroom items like soap and toilet paper dispensers, but it’s since spread to objects like tiles or sinks.
Although there has been no significant vandalism reported this week, Little did message the VHS Viper student body and parents on September 14 sharing an update about the vandalism and how it has been affecting bathroom access:
“Due to an unfortunate TikTok trend on social media, schools nationwide have had a rash of new bathroom vandalism. Vandegrift has experienced the impact of this trend as a handful of students made the poor choice to destroy some of their own facilities in the name of temporary notoriety.
Clearly, causing damage to the very restroom you personally access — requiring the tax entity that your parents and community support to repair — is a poor decision.
In addition, this is a time drain on our assistant principal team during an already stressful school year.”
Little shared that in most cases, the students involved have been identified and consequences given.
“The resulting damage caused by the pranks has required us to close some restrooms for repair. THE RESTROOMS ARE NOT CLOSED TO PUNISH STUDENTS. AS AS CAMPUS, WE NEVER PUNISH THE WHOLE FOR THE ACTIONS OF A FEW. We believe in potty parity and fair and equal access to all facilities for our students,” Little shared with the Viper community.
Vandegrift is down seven custodians, he said, and they have been making the cleaning and repairs as quickly as possible to reopen restrooms. By Tuesday, the school had three full bathroom suites open in Building 1 and students were told to ask a teacher or administrator for assistance if they were unsure.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this new issue,” Little said. “Always remember that most of our students are amazing every day, and this is not a reflection on their work this year.”
As of Wednesday morning, a week after it all began, Little said the school is “almost business as usual.”
“We have opened all bathrooms with the exception of one upstairs and one downstairs that still need major work,” he added.