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Hilltown Archives The Altamont Enterprise, June 10, 2010
By Zach Simeone
BERNE Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s secondary school was closed on Wednesday after what the district believes to be this year’s senior prank: dousing the halls with motor oil.
“We’re still kind of putting all the pieces together,” Interim Superintendent Kim LaBelle told The Enterprise Wednesday, “but, very early this morning, a custodian opened up the building, and there appeared to be motor oil on the floors in quite a bit of the hallways here.” LaBelle was called in at 6:30 a.m.
The district’s initial reaction was to delay school by two hours.
“We hoped we could get the kids in because we didn’t want to interrupt the educational program,” said LaBelle. “We’re right in the middle of exams; it’s a big disruption. We realized quickly we would not be able to clean up that much of a mess in time.”
Some classroom materials were also damaged.
To determine the degree to which these oils pose a safety risk, a release from the district says, “We are working with the staff of the Capital Region BOCES Health-Safety-Risk Management service. However, there will be lasting evidence of the oily substance in the form of stains on floors, stairs, and walls until we can get an estimate of the cost and then proceed with efforts to more permanently repair the damage.”
The district has also begun changing the locks throughout the middle-high school.
While there is currently no evidence of a break-in, police have been called in to investigate how the perpetrators got into the building, and to figure out who greased the halls, the release says.
“Somehow, somebody got into the school, and that’s vandalism,” said LaBelle. “That’s why we kicked it up to the State Police level.” Officer Steven Rothwine, the school’s resource officer known among students as Trooper Steve, is on the case, she said.
“There is video that we have, both in the school and outside the school; we’re continuing to take a look at that,” LaBelle concluded on Wednesday. “I’m hoping we’ll be up and running tomorrow for school.”