In an email sent to parents Tuesday morning, Hart High School Principal Jason d’Autremont called for an end to a destructive social media trend that involves students filming themselves “trashing” school bathrooms.
In his message to parents, d’Autremont said the social media trend has resulted in not only expensive destruction to the local campus, but also is part of a nationwide phenomenon among students.
“What I am referring to is a social media challenge to ‘trash’ school bathrooms,” said d’Autremont. “This has included, on our campus, painting walls, destroying soap dispensers, bringing fire extinguishers in, and so on.”
In speaking to The Signal over the phone, the principal said he has heard of this being an issue at other schools in the district as well, and the perpetrators are creating costly and dangerous problems for the sake of social media.
“Some of the stuff we’re dealing with is soap dispensers and soap being thrown all over the ground, which is a dangerous thing,” said d’Autremont. “If a kid were to slip, fall and hurt himself/herself … We’ve had fire extinguishers taken and (used), setting off the fire alarm.”
Not only do the acts of vandalism cause a dangerous situation, it also means more work for the campus custodians, d’Autremont said.
“I feel extremely bad for our custodial staff because they’re the ones having to typically clean it up,” said d’Autremont. “We had the Department of Public Health here the other day, they’re looking for (COVID-19 health and safety) signage, and one of the bathrooms is trashed. And I said, ‘Well, our signage was up, I promise you.’”
“I just feel bad for everyone involved,” the principal added.
A handful of students have been caught and reprimanded — the majority of issues have been in boys’ bathrooms — as the school looks to end what has been an ongoing series of instances.
“I can’t count how many we’ve had so far this year; it’s been that bad” said d’Autremont. “We’ve shut bathrooms down, we’ve tried to mitigate the issue, tried to isolate it and it’s just not working… We had disciplined some students for it yesterday, and while they were up in the office, two more bathrooms got hit.”
It’s not just one or two students participating and then posting it to their social media, d’Autremont said, and now the administrators, although there have yet to be any expulsions in connection to the incidents, are reminding students and parents that there will be consequences.
“They’re going to see the cost because we have some costs for dispensers and other things that students and their families are going to be responsible for,” said d’Autremont. “Once they see the cost of this, it’s going to be mind boggling…they’re going to think twice.”
In order to prevent any future disciplinary action or financial responsibility, the district is asking parents to have a conversation with their students about making good choices.
“It is something that is happening at other schools, as well,” said Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the William S. Hart Union High School District. “This trend is really leading to kids making some poor choices and we’re hoping this will lead to parents sitting down with their kids and talking with them.”
“Please talk to your kids, let them know that this is not acceptable,” said d’Autremont. “We’d love to partner with you because your relationship with your kids, just as our relationship with your kids, is critical for them to do the right thing.”