OREGON — Repeated vandalism of some bathrooms in Oregon school buildings is likely inspired by a TikTok challenge, district officials said on Tuesday.
“The degree of it has been different in all buildings,” Superintendent Tom Mahoney said. “Most of it has been around our soap dispensers.”
It’s the repetitive nature of the act that makes it a more issue, Mahoney said. He said the vandalism has been ongoing for three weeks, but did not know exactly how many times it has occurred.
“It has occurred multiple times in each school,” he said.
At Oregon High School, gym lobby restrooms will be locked until further notice, according to the district’s weekly announcements. Teachers also will be “significantly limiting” trips to other restrooms.
“We believe we’ve got great kids and families, and we believe our families are not OK with it,” Mahoney said. “While I can understand how kids could get swept up in it [social media fads], it doesn’t mean there couldn’t be some severe consequences for those who participate.”
Students who destroy school property could face suspension and be required to reimburse the district for the cost of repairs or replacements, or, depending on their past behavior, they could face expulsion, Mahoney said.
A classroom in the Forrestville School District’s Grade School was recently damaged.
Other incidents across Sauk Valley
Over the past few weeks other area schools have had to cope with elements of vandalism, presumably related to the TikTok “Devious Licks” challenge posted on the social media app. After an initial surge in September, the activity has waned, however.
Dixon Public Schools: Superintendent Margo Empen said there were incidents of vandalism with some bathroom faucets at Reagan Middle School. There was also a report of damage to soap dispensers and a paper towel machine. She said Principal Matthew Magnafici and Assistant Principal Kellie Glenn communicated with parents and worked with school resources officers and “it was quickly nipped in the bud. So far no other issues.” Empen said she encouraged families to understand that such incidents require implementing the district discipline plan.
Sterling Public Schools: Superintendent Tad Everett said the September incidents of “senseless behavior” at Sterling High School and Challand Middle School had not disrupted the education environment. “Stealing hand sanitizer, soap dispenser, taking a toilet lid off … things like that,” he said. Bathrooms at the high school were closed for a time. At the most recent board meeting Challand Principal Lindsy Stumpenhorst was commended for recognizing what was happening and then for using social media posts herself to help counter the behavior with positive reinforcement.
Rock Falls High School: Superintendent Ron McCord said there had been some vandalism that resulted in limited restroom availability and that the district was closely monitoring the situation.