West Bloomfield School District parents and students were surprised when they woke up on Wednesday, April 18 to find that school had been canceled due to vandalism targeting 20 buses during a 15-minute window the night before, marking the second time in less than three months that the district was forced to cancel classes due to disabled school buses. The district is taking immediate action to enhance its surveillance system at the bus lot, but it may need to look into hiring permanent overnight surveillance personnel to patrol the bus yard if similar incidents of vandalism happen again.
The vandalism — which was accomplished by pulling fuses from buses and cutting wires — prompted not only the cancellation of classes for the day, but also all district elementary and middle school extracurricular activities.
Classes, as well as those activities, resumed as normal the following day, Thursday, April 19.
This is the second incident of school bus vandalism in the district’s bus lot this year, with the first coming back on Jan. 29, when 18 buses were vandalized, again prompting the cancellation of classes on Jan. 30.
According to district administrators, no suspects have been apprehended in that incident.
While the district currently has someone monitoring the bus yard overnight as it awaits receipt and installation of new and improved surveillance equipment, that might not be enough to deter more vandalism incidents in the future — although we certainly hope it is. But if not, the district needs to seriously consider hiring one or more people to monitor the bus yard during the overnight hours on a permanent basis, in spite of the fact that it would cost precious dollars during tight fiscal times.
With this being the second time such an incident has happened this year, we understand not jumping the gun on hiring a new employee or two to monitor the bus yard. However, a third incident should prompt the school board to get moving on addressing the issue not just with technology, but also a flesh-and-blood deterrent.
In addition, another thing to make possible vandals think twice is, when and if the suspect(s) in both incidents are caught, officials need to ensure that the full force of the law is brought to bare on them. Disrupting the day-to-day schedules of not only the district’s 6,600 students, but also their parents and guardians, who also have to change their schedules at a moment’s notice when such incidents take place, and district faculty and staff warrants the most severe punishment possible under the law.