Two boys, ages 11 and 13, have been cited in a vandalism spree at a Sacramento County school for disabled adults that left feces and wheelchairs in the swimming pool, as well as flame retardant all over clothes that serve as a lifeline for students.
The episode at Laurel Ruff Transition School occurred around 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22 during a weeklong break in classes. Sacramento County sheriff’s officials said witnesses reported seeing two boys on the roof and banging on doors some time before an alarm sounded.
The Sheriff’s Department issued a news release Thursday evening announcing that detectives had identified the two boys. The youths were cited for burglary and vandalism and released to their parents, the news release said. Their names have not been released because they are juveniles.
The school serves 118 students, ages 18 to 22, in the 5300 block of Garfield Avenue, just north of Madison Avenue in northeast Sacramento County.
“In the pool area, they dumped equipment and towels and hair dryers and wheelchairs and anything that wasn’t bolted down into the pool,” said Julia Arreguin, principal of Laurel Ruff.
The pool also contained broken glass from multiple mirrors, a wood laundry chest, plastic pipe and a mechanical walker used for exercise. Perpetrators defecated in the pool and poured in shampoo, she said.
Perpetrators poured chemicals into the Jacuzzi and turned on the water, flooding the area, she said. They used fire extinguishers to spew flame retardant over items in the students’ clothes closet in a nearby portable building.
On Thursday, Laurel Ruff’s head custodian Sam Nath began moving the room’s wood furniture away from the side of the pool. It, too, had been tossed into the water, Nath said. In the bathrooms, three new sinks were ready for installation. All items had been retrieved from the pool, but it was still being cleaned.
Arreguin said the vandals used a sledge hammer or something equally heavy to break several sinks from their wall mounts in two bathrooms.
She said many students swim daily and were devastated.
“They came back after their vacation, and their routine was completely disrupted,” she said.
Students care for and rely on the clothes.
“Some students with more significant disabilities, the ability to change clothes and practice that daily was important,” Arreguin said. “We had a really nice facility that was ransacked.”
Individuals had donated clothes including men’s suits, for use in interviews. Some were salvageable, Arreguin said. Others had to be tossed.
“It’s really sad to see all those clothes from the clothes closet having to be thrown away,” said student Krystal Adams, 19. “The clothes closet was our treasure.”
Angela Tejeda, 18, said it was “really upsetting” that she still is unable to use the pool to train for Special Olympics competition.
Arreguin said students at the school come from all over the San Juan Unified School District and learn fundamental skills to get and keep a job in a range of fields, including retail, custodial, hospitality and working with animals. “We try to leverage everything into some sort of instruction,” she said.
District spokesman Trent Allen said the school received about $1,400 in damage to the physical structure. Arreguin said the losses in equipment, such as a power walker, won’t be known until attempts are made at repairs.
The Sheriff’s Department said the case will be forwarded to the Sacramento County Probation Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department at 916-874-5115 or Crime Alert at 916-443-4357. Information may also be left anonymously at www.sacsheriff.com or by calling 916-874-8477.
Arreguin said the school is accepting contributions of professional adult clothing and tax-deductible donations to purchase an industrial size clothes washer and dryer. Clothing and checks made out to the school can be mailed or dropped off at the school, 5325 Garfield Ave., Sacramento, CA 95841.