February 4, 2009
Police investigate Dryden school bus vandalism
Police chief says students may have been involved in deflating tires on 28 district buses
DRYDEN — Police Chief Margaret Ryan says there are several leads in the investigation of vandalism that left 28 school buses with flat tires Tuesday morning.
“There are a number of different avenues we’re looking into, some of which involve students,” Ryan said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Twenty-eight out of 32 district school buses parked in the bus garage lot were found with flat tires at about 5:30 Tuesday morning, canceling classes for about 600 students in grades nine through 12.
Dryden School District Bus Garage Transportation Assistant Mary Applegate said all school buses were used this morning.
School officials and police will not comment on the total number of tires deflated.
Ryan would not comment Tuesday how specifically the tires were flattened, citing the open investigation, but said each bus had at least one flat tire in the front or rear.
Some buses had two flat tires in the front, while other buses had one rear tire deflated, a visual inspection showed.
Those responsible will likely face criminal charges, Ryan said.
“It’s criminal trespass because it’s on school property, we could also be looking at criminal mischief, it also depends on the damage,” Ryan said.
Superintendent of Schools Sandra Sherwood said a damage estimate amount had not yet been totaled Tuesday afternoon.
The buses are parked overnight in a fenced lot with a locked gate at 56 E. Main St. next to Dryden Elementary School.
Sherwood said Tuesday afternoon there are no security cameras in the lot, adding this incident prompts exploring security measures.
Ryan said she believes the incident occurred sometime after midnight Tuesday and whoever did it likely jumped over the fence since the locks were not broken.
Bus mechanic Harlan Pudney Jr. found the buses had sunk nearly to the ground when he arrived at 5:30 a.m. and reported it to Sherwood.
“My first concern was to get people notified,” Pudney said Tuesday.
Sherwood said none of the deflated tires needed to be replaced, which would have cost the school district about $500 each.
Six maintenance workers and mechanics spent about five hours Tuesday checking tire pressure and refilling tires with air.
Sherwood said Tuesday there was no additional damage found to the buses after inspections.
Classes in the high school and elementary schools resumed this morning.
Students in kindergarten through eighth grade were not scheduled for classes Tuesday because teachers were scoring the state English Language Assessment tests.
Sherwood said holding classes on a March superintendent’s conference day would make up for the missed day of school.
Sherwood said she hopes the weather will not prove difficult for the remainder of winter, adding further closings would cut into spring vacation.
“It would be detrimental, we’ve had such a rough winter already,” Sherwood said.
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe