Woodside: Teens, ages 13-16, rounded up in arson incidents at Woodside Elementary School

Teens admit involvement; two are girls

Arson and vandalism at Woodside Elementary School 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 from the local community. Four live in Woodside, one in Portola Valley, one in Redwood City and one in unincorporated Redwood City, authorities said.

"All (the teens) admitted to one level or another of association and wrongdoing," 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 Menlo School in Atherton, Castilleja (Girls) School in Palo Alto, Everest and Summit Prep charter high schools in Redwood City, and St. Francis High School in Mountain View, deputies said.

The teens range in age from 13 to 16, deputies said. Two are girls.

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.

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Like this comment
Posted by Srini
a resident of another community
on Aug 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

A parent stepped up to pay for the damages and private patrol? Outstanding! I can only hope that it is the parent of one of the vandals, and that they make the kid pay them restitution. A golden teaching opportunity.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Not good enough. All of the kids need to pay for what happeneed. You play you pay. They should also make the repairs for the damage under supervision of trained personnel.

Like this comment
Posted by Boardermom
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm

While it is great that the damage has been repaired, the courts and the DA should be holding these kids financially responsible through their sentencing. Having someone else rescue them and clean up their mess is a very bad message, however well intentioned.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Well, there certainly are enough public and private schools represented in this incident to target blame.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Sounds like a parent is trying to buy their child out of trouble. Wonder why they were pulling this BS in the first place? Could it be they've been bailed out of their stupid choices before?

Like this comment
Posted by Black Dog
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 30, 2011 at 1:17 am

Let's do the math: 7 kids: 5 from Woodside/PV and 2 from Redwood City...hmmm.... 2 of the kids are paying for their crimes (ARSON!!!) in juevinile hall and 5 are getting a relative slap on the wrist while a parent pays for the damages. What are we learning? Money buys you out of anything, no matter how severe. Unreal.

Like this comment
Posted by William
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 30, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Unfortunately, I'm not surprised by these events or that our rich, young kids have some much free time (hence, the "boredom"). Although the group seems to represent a melange of public and private schools, I note that only St. Francis of the schools "represented" by our young felons actually has specific classes on morality and ethics (i.e. religion classes). Coincidence or not?

Like this comment
Posted by Beast
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 30, 2011 at 8:36 pm

It said a parent stepped up and paid for the damage. They were not bailed out of anything by their own parents, two of them are in Juvi learning their lesson and hope to god they learn it.

Like this comment
Posted by My2Bits
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Question for readers: This incident took place early August, roughly one month into school summer vacations. The article lists the schools, yet the schools have absolutely no control over what kids do off campus during vacations. I suspect the schools still don't know the identity of some of these kids. Should the schools be informed of 'off season' issues like this and should such activities be subject to school disciplinary actions? If it happened during the school year on on home campus it would surely be a big deal and maybe even expulsion-worthy - but how about in this case? Just curious - your opinion?

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Aug 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Morals and values begin at a young age. Based on the variety of secondary schools listed, these children most likely met in elementary school. If they went to Woodside Elementary School, where the damage occurred, I wouldn't be surprised why they did this. When you have parents binge drinking at auctions where some students sneak peeks and see this as well as moms dancing in red satin bras with see through tops at the school fundraiser, it is no surprise this is the outcome of the kids. It is a pity that the schools were mentioned and that this school paid a heavy price for the damage of its own students, when ultimately the parents are the ones who model this behavior and do not allow the school to maintain rules about parent behavior on campus at its fundraisers. If this things happen on campus, who knows what the children are exposed to at home.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:20 pm

My2bits offers good questions. Is there a mechanism in place to notify schools of students' criminal behavior, no matter when it occurs? Reading this made me sad, angry & worried.

Like this comment
Posted by narnia
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I'm so glad none of the teenagers were from East Palo Alto or they woud have had a criminal record waiting for them and damaging their lives. There would be no shortage of indignation if race and social standing were different. The only good thing coming out of this is that now we know just where the authorities stand , if arson, with an explosive no less, is to be considered to mild an offense for consequences for the perpetrator. Where is the law when we need it?

Like this comment
Posted by Black dog
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Beast - wake up! Two kids are paying the price and they aren't the Woodside kids. The security is a compromise between the parents and the school. The Woodside kids skate on this offense.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Aug 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm

First of all, to "Black Dog" -- it doesn't specify who got sent to juvie and who got let off a bit easier. Let's not make assumptions here.
Second, what I'm wondering is why they placed emphasis on the fact that two of the perpetrators were girls?

Like this comment
Posted by sara
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Aug 31, 2011 at 7:06 pm

And what exactly were they doing with baseball bats and mail boxes?
If they were using gasoline to start the fires, how was that transported, in a car I assume. Over the course of 3 days?! These are troubled kids involved in potentially very dangerous criminal activities and they need to be shamed and then taught that this will not be tolerated in our community. I feel badly for the other younger kids at Woodside Elementary that they were exposed to this and the fears they may now have.

Like this comment
Posted by Horkan
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Oct 15, 2011 at 4:39 am

rich kids with too much time on their hands with parents who are out chasing money and pushing their causes. now the kids and parents can reflect on this and rebound and learn or fizzle which probably will be the case.

Like this comment
Posted by student1
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2011 at 7:15 am

clearly none of you know what actually happened here. But fortunately i know the entire story. In a nutshell, the kids who were sent to juvie were the ones actually committing the crimes. The others were not even there and basically were friends of those kids. Then the guilty teens tagged them in a facebook post; they were guilty by association. So therefore they were sentenced to classes and community service for......Being friends with the wrong people. They actually did nothing wrong. So all of you who believe money bought them out, I beg to differ. Those who actually did the crime, were sentenced to a couple months in jail.

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