DuBois Area School District substitute Superintendent Wendy Benton provided an update at last week’s board work session regarding the all-terrain vehicle riders who caused extensive property damage in the back of Wasson Elementary School on April 23.
Benton said she received a phone call Thursday from a parent of one of the individuals who was operating one of the ATVs that caused the damage to the property.
“That parent had requested that his son, and the other involved, restore the damage to the property in lieu of charges,” said Benton.
Recently, a professional landscaper met with Benton and district Maintenance Director Steve Dunlap and quoted a price of $6,000 to repair the damage. This estimate was based on the extent, the size, and the location of the damage, in addition to the time involved in the restoration process, Benton said.
“I know whenever I was a principal and I would talk to students about their behavior or possibly issuing a discipline, I would always tell them, ‘I’m not perfect. I certainly don’t expect you to be perfect. In life, we all make bad choices at times, but the most important thing is what you do after you made a bad choice,’” said Benton. “So in working with these individuals, I have a recommendation that I would like to make to you. Not for approval or anything, but I really just want to have everyone on the same page.”
Benton recommended that the ATV drivers who were involved with the incident, and their parents, walk the property with Dunlap to assess the extent of the damage and to determine a corrective action process. From there, the district would agree to delay the charges and restitution until June 30.
If the property is successfully restored by June 30, the district would drop the charges. The drivers of the ATVs will also be responsible for the cost associated with the top soil, the grass seed, and the straw to protect the growth process of the new grass, Benton said.
“I would ask for your (board) support in moving forward with this plan,” said Benton. “I don’t question the cost of the landscaper, but $6,000 is an awful lot of money. And I really think that these individuals would learn from their experience, probably more so than just paying the money that they were asking to restore the property.”
Director Sam Armagost said he thinks it’s a great idea as long as the parents aren’t there to help the individuals repair the damage.
“I think whoever caused the damage should only be those to fix it,” said Armagost. “If Mom and Dad want to come up and drink a can of pop and watch them fix it, then that’s fine, but I think only those who did the damage should do the work. That’ll give them something to think about.”
Director David Schwab said he hopes Dunlap will oversee and decide if the damage is repaired properly.
“And that’s why before anything would happen, they would walk the property with Mr. Dunlap, identify the areas that need to be corrected, and they have to successfully restore the property,” said Benton. “...Then there would be an inspection by Mr. Dunlap to make sure everything is resolved by June 30th.”
Benton noted that the two juveniles are at an age where they are capable of restoring the damage successfully. At this time, the district knows of only two individuals who were involved in the incident.