Nevada County school district continues to see destructive incidents, warns of next ‘challenge’
Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden said the district continues to face incidents of destruction to school restrooms, in addition to warning of other potential destructive trends.
Administrators with the district spoke on the uptick in damage to campus restrooms last month, saying it was connected to a nationwide trend popularized on TikTok which challenged students to commit these acts.
McFadden wrote in a letter to district parents and guardians Monday telling them that the district had learned this trend was “posted along with others to occur in the coming months,“ and in particular, that the district had heard of a “Slap a Teacher” challenge associated with the month of October.
“We want to continue to make families aware and be crystal clear that students who participate in the unwanted touching of a staff member will be appropriately disciplined, including consideration for expulsion from school, as well as potentially face criminal charges,” McFadden wrote.
The letter asked parents and guardians to partner with the district by communicating to their students about appropriate school behavior and the consequences of participating in such “challenges.” It also encouraged monitoring of students’ social media activity in light of the risky nature of some of the “challenges.”
McFadden said Tuesday that the district had been alerted by both students and staff who use TikTok.
The California Teachers Association posted a warning regarding the trend to its Facebook page Tuesday, providing a link to guidance for educators in the case that the trend comes to their school.
“While this month’s challenge, not sponsored or authorized by TikTok, doesn’t yet to appear to have caught on widely, there has already been at least one incident reported in South Carolina and it is important to be aware that students here in California may be coerced by social media or their peers to participate,” stated the warning on the association’s website.
On the original trend, regarding destruction to campus restrooms, McFadden emphasized that a minority of students are behind the destructive incidents — described in his letter Monday as including destruction or theft of soap dispensers, hand sanitizer dispensers, fire extinguishers, and teacher/staff personal items.
“It’s occurring a lot, but it’s not occurring at large,” said McFadden. He explained, however, that even a small number of students committing these acts can have a large impact.
Between the district’s two largest high schools, Nevada Union and Bear River, around a dozen incidents of restroom vandalism have occurred so far, said McFadden.
He described one incident which occurred last week at Bear River High School as involving a restroom’s paper towel, toilet paper, and soap dispensers all being kicked or knocked off the walls — damaging the walls — followed by the dispensers being put into a pile and urinated on.
McFadden said the district has spent thousands of dollars replacing restroom equipment as a result of the incidents, adding that custodians have also had to spend time doing repair work — in some instances, twice for the same restroom.
In response to the incidents, said McFadden, district schools have in some cases closed certain restrooms, directing students to restrooms with campus safety staff nearby.
In addition, some students have been caught in relation to these incidents, which has led to “swift disciplinary action,” according to McFadden. This action could range up to suspension or expulsion, he said.
“This has been a challenge at the school district level, at the local level, and it’s a challenge we certainly did not need in the face of all the other challenges we’re facing right now,” said McFadden.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com
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