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Hays students accused of racially charged vandalism

by KIM HILSENBECK

Two Hays High School freshmen were detained by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office during class Monday following a vandalism spree over the weekend at the school, according to Deputy Jeff Jordan, a sheriff’s spokesman.

The students are accused of writing racially charged graffiti, such as the “N” word, on the door of one of their teacher’s classrooms.

That teacher is black. The student suspects are white and Hispanic, according to the teacher. She would know – they were in her class.

And she said this was not the first racially related issue she’s had in her four years at Hays High.

Hays High students who contacted the Hays Free Press also reported more acts of vandalism, including carving KKK into the door and urinating on her computer.

Tim Savoy, district spokesman, said the vandalism was only on the teacher’s door and not inside the room. He said no urine was involved. The teacher, who spoke with the Hays Free Press, said the suspects urinated on her door.

Savoy said the damage included a science lab and a baseball field concession stand, which were cleaned and repaired before classes resumed Monday. He also said the racially charged graffiti was only written on the door, not carved into it.

The suspects, both 14, were taken to the Hays County Juvenile Detention Center on Monday following their arrest. They were each charged with burglary of a building; graffiti of a public school; and criminal mischief of a public school — all state jail felonies. Jordan said the suspects were released Wednesday.

Savoy said the Hays County District Attorney is reviewing whether the graffiti charge will have the hate crime enhancement added to it, moving the charges from state jail felony to third-degree felony. District Attorney Sherri Tibbe declined to comment on the cases, citing the ongoing investigation and the fact that the students are minors.

In addition to being arrested, each student has also been assigned the maximum penalty allowed under the Hays CISD student discipline code – immediate placement at the disciplinary alternative campus with the possibility of expulsion, Savoy said.

Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Lyon said the district will not tolerate this type of offensive behavior.

At a school board meeting Monday, the Anti-Defamation League recognized Hays CISD for all 22 campuses and the district as a whole earning the “No Place for Hate” designation.

“This (recognition) shows our commitment to ensuring our district is an inclusive environment where everyone is valued and has an opportunity to succeed,” Savoy said.

That was the day the two 14-year-old students were arrested for a racially motivated crime.

KIM HILSENBECK reports for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.