LYNN — At least four juveniles broke into Lynn English High School over the weekend and caused widespread damage inside the school, which resulted in the arrest of a 13-year-old boy.
Police responded to Lynn English High School shortly before 4:30 p.m. on Sunday and found widespread vandalism inside the school.
Four suspects were identified as the alleged culprits, which included a 13-year-old and three others who are under the age of 12, who are all Lynn residents, Lynn Police Lt. Michael Kmiec said.
School officials said one juvenile was just 9 years old and that there may be a fifth juvenile involved who was seen on security cameras.
Police said two boys and two girls were identified through the investigation as allegedly being involved in the vandalism. Three of the children were released to their parents and an older boy was taken into police custody and then released to a parent. There is a possibility other children may have been involved.
The 13-year-old male was arrested and charged with daytime breaking and entering and wanton destruction of property. He’ll have to go through juvenile court and it was not clear when his arraignment date would be, Kmiec said.
Kmiec declined to release the name of the juvenile arrested and ages of the remaining juveniles. New changes to state law protects juveniles under the age of 12 from being charged with a crime — recent legislation raised the minimum age a juvenile could be charged from 7 to 12.
Kmiec said how the juveniles got into the school is still being looked at. He said there was damage on more than one floor of the building, which included spray paint inside the building and barrels tipped over. He said things were thrown around and there may have been some damage to computers.
School Committee member John Ford, who serves as chairman of the Building and Grounds subcommittee, said he’s been inside Lynn English since the vandalism. He said the kids did a lot of damage to to televisions.
Ford said the juveniles were driving the machine used for waxing floors and drove it through a wall into the kitchen area, where food was scattered all over the place. He said there were pornographic drawings and a lot of classrooms were damaged.
The kids were seen inside the building on Sunday — police said the kids made their way inside the school, which was closed and a coach who was at the school notified authorities — but Ford said the kids were in there on both Saturday and Sunday and didn’t set off the alarm system.
Ford said it’s crazy that police can’t do anything to them, because state law protects them from being charged. He said the minimum age was raised with the idea of keeping kids out of the court system but there’s no way to discipline them.
Lynn Police Officer Oren Wright, the school security and emergency planning liaison, outlined school security protocols to The Item earlier this year. There are cameras inside and outside every Lynn Public School, with live access to the cameras from his desk, along with live access in three locations in the Lynn Police Department.
Wright said every door of every Lynn Public Schools building is locked at all times and visitors have to go through a buzzer system to enter the building.
“My first thing is what’s up with the cameras we have in all the schools,” said Michael Satterwhite, a member of the School Committee. “Wouldn’t this be something that someone would see?”
Satterwhite said he can’t think of how the kids could get in, as the school is supposed to be locked. He said he’s heard of broken doors at the school, which he hopes is not the case in the situation. Although it’s summertime, he said the district still needs to maintain its schools.
“It’s something we should definitely address,” Satterwhite said. “We should all be concerned. I think it’s a sad thing that these kids would cause such destruction on a school that they (could) have attended in the next couple of years and that their parents will be financially responsible for.”
“If these kids had a program to be a part of, maybe they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do this. Obviously, we have to make sure these kids have resources to get their energy out instead of causing significant property damage to our schools.”
Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham and Mayor Thomas M. McGee, chairman of the School Committee, declined comment.
The extent of the damage financially, and how long it would take to repair and clean up the school was not clear on Monday as attempts to reach Joseph Smart, director of building and grounds, and Michael Donovan, inspectional services chief, from the city’s Inspectional Services Department, were not successful.
Item reporter Bella diGrazia contributed to this report.