Local student arrested in Woodside arson incidents


A St. Francis student was among seven teens rounded up following arson and vandalism at Woodside Elementary School. The incidents, taking place over three days in early August, have led deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to make two arrests in a roundup of seven teens, authorities said. The teens admitted their involvement.

Two live in Woodside, one in Portola Valley, and the rest in Redwood City, authorities said.

The teens admitted their involvement in interviews after being apprehended, Lt. Ray Lunny of the Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies said the arson incidents at Woodside Elementary School occurred between Aug. 5 and 8. The damage included scorch marks on the stage at the school's outdoor amphitheatre, fire damage to three plastic sliding boards in the playground, tire marks in the artificial turf field, and the word "painters" burned into the natural grass field, Lt. Lunny said.

All of the arson-related activities involved the use of gasoline, he said.

And their rationale? "Other than they've got nothing better to do, there is no known logical reason for their behavior," Lt. Lunny said.

Authorities are not releasing the teens' names because they are juveniles. Two attend Woodside High School and there is one each from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Menlo School in Atherton, Castilleja (Girls) School in Palo Alto, and Everest and Summit Prep charter high schools in Redwood City, deputies said.

The teens, five boys and two girls, range in age from 13 to 16, deputies said.

Details that led to the arrests came on Aug. 18 after questioning by the Redwood City police in connection with a traffic stop, an unlicensed driver, and youths reportedly using baseball bats to damage mailboxes in Redwood City, deputies said.

Two of the teens were booked into Hillcrest Juvenile Hall in San Mateo on charges of misdemeanor arson and vandalism, deputies said. The other five will be participating in the youth diversion program, which includes classes and community service, deputies said.

A parent has stepped in and paid for the damages, including a loss estimated at $13,500 in damage to the sliding boards, Lt. Lunny said. The incidents will not interrupt normal school activities at Woodside Elementary, he said.

The anonymous parent is also paying for a private security guard to patrol the school grounds, Lt. Lunny said.


Like this comment
Posted by Lanee
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm

What is the common denominator here? These kids are from different cities, different schools (middle school and high school), plus the boy/girl mix. What did these kids have in common that brought them together to vandalize this school?

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Aug 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm

These kids should do lots of hours of public service as punishment. They should not learn that they can get away with stuff just because a parent can pay for the damage.

Like this comment
Posted by denny
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I believe we should release names and photos of these kids in addition to having them do community work. The community deserves to know who is vandalizing school property.

Like this comment
Posted by Marilyn
a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

The common thread is that these are very rich, entitled kids and they should do many hours of community service. Shame on them and on the father that paid for everything.

Like this comment
Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Such heartbreaking news!! I am imagining that these are otherwise "good kids", so what happened?!! What brought them to the point of thinking that what they did was OK?!! I suppose some of their behavior can be chalked up to the impulsiveness and stupidity of youth. And some might even be attributed to the "roar of the crowd" mentality (and that as individuals none of them would have acted upon these inane ideas and thoughts). But there's probably more.
What can we, as members of the "global village" do to help prevent this way of thinking and behaving?
Bottom line:the teens need to be held accountable and they should be actively involved in repairing the damage that they caused.

Like this comment
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 29, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I, for one, am very grateful for the father who is paying so much. I believe parents are responsible for the actions of their children--apparently, he does too. I also believe the children need to be punished and I agree community service might be a good option. I do not agree that these children should have their names publicized; they are children after all.

Like this comment
Posted by Sean
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

The 'parent' that is paying the damages is the cause of this problem, not the solution. Daddy's checkbook will undoubtedly permit a lifetime of pointless destruction, in one arena or another. The kids need to work to pay off their own debt, no lesson will be learned here.

Like this comment
Posted by Reader
a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So what has this got to with Mountain View (other than the out if town student who attends school here)? I don't Palo Alto Weekly running this story.

Like this comment
Posted by Anna
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Aug 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Why is the parent paying for a private security guard to patrol the school grounds? Why doesnt this parent save her/his money and get to the bottom of the real issue which is why is YOUR child doing these dangerous and criminal acts?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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