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Vandals flood Parker Whitney classroom

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Targeted by recent vandals, Parker Whitney Elementary School’s Principal Denny Rush is hoping a reward will get people talking. The school has been hit hard by vandals lately. The most recent act occurred sometime over the weekend of Jan. 15. A hose was turned on and placed in the duct causing water and structural damage to a classroom. According to Rocklin Police Lt. Lon Milka, there are no suspects in the case. But Rush is hoping a monetary reward will entice people to come forward with information. The tip can be anonymous and could result in up to $1,000 if the information provided leads to an arrest and conviction. The reward money will be paid for through the district’s insurance company, according to Larry Stark, assistant superintendent of facilities and operations with Rocklin Unified. Damages, which included ceiling tiles falling to the floor and water damage, are estimated at $5,000, according to Stark. But it doesn’t account for students’ work that was destroyed. “Money can replace a lot of stuff, but these are projects sixth-graders had done in first-grade,” Rush said. “It was the loss of work that was devastating.” It was Visual and Performing Arts teacher Linda Donohue’s classroom that was targeted. Donohue teaches arts to all first- through sixth-grade students at Parker Whitney. Students’ artwork lined the walls, almost from floor to ceiling. But when Donohue arrived on campus Monday, Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a school holiday, she found water seeping out under her door, Rush said. Ceiling panels had fallen to the floor, standing water was on desktops and puddles of colored water sat on the floor – stained by students’ water-damaged work. Rush estimated there was about four inches of standing water in Donohue’s classroom. Four days before the incident, Parker Whitney Elementary was also the target of local vandals. Rush said cement stepping-stones were thrown through a classroom window. The teacher had to relocate class for the day while the shards of glass were cleaned up and the window was replaced. In this most recent case, Donohue also had to relocate her classroom temporarily. Monday morning, crews were finishing up the last of the work to her room. Rush said in addition to the kids’ projects that were lost, it also has an affect on the students, who view school as a safe environment. “It’s just the uncertainty that it creates for the kids,” Rush said. “When they do this, it’s at the heart of the children.” Anyone with information is encouraged to call WeTip, a crime reporting resource that has helped reduce crime incidents in schools nationwide, at (800) 782-7463. Tips can be anonymous and could lead to reward money.