Knightdale police, with the help of Knightdale and East Wake high schools, are still looking for the students who have been involved with several incidences of vandalism on the two schools’ campuses.
Knightdale police began looking for the person who vandalized a town sign that marks Knightdale High School. The vandalism showed up on Valentine’s Day and the vandal could be facing criminal charges as well as paying restitution to the town for the sign’s repairs. The town estimated it would cost about $170 to repair.
According to KHS School Resource Officer Pete Smith, he is working with administrators at Knightdale and East Wake to identify a suspect or group of suspects.
Right now, Smith said he and the schools have identified of group of about 12-15 students they are looking into, but they have not been named suspects.
The friendly rivalry escalated in early February before the two schools were scheduled to play each other in basketball. The game was ultimately rescheduled because of snow.
On Feb. 10, the same week the two schools were to play each other for the first time this season, East Wake High School students came to school that morning with graffiti on a wall on the north side of the campus, said campus manager Sebastian Shipp. The next day, there was toilet paper hanging from trees. On Wednesday, students and administrators came to school and found eight vandalized buses and the previously tagged wall was tagged again.
That time, Shipp said, the messages were inappropriate.
There was normal competitive talk, like the phrase “Smack East Wack,” but the graffiti also mentioned specific students and made racial comments that seemed to reference white power, Shipp said.
The school called Wendell police to report that incident.
“We always tell students that we appreciate the rivalry between the two schools and we appreciate their school spirit ... however school spirit doesn't mean it should lead into a prank where you are damaging property,” Shipp said.
“That’s moving beyond school spirit,” he said. “We really are moving into destruction of property and defaming a person's character. That’s when we feel like it goes too far.”
On Feb. 18, a few days before the rescheduled basketball game on Feb. 20, East Wake came to school to find their baseball field had plastic forks stuck in it, spelling out “KHS.” The dugout was also covered in Saran wrap.
Shipp said that baseball field target may have been because the season was also starting that week, with a home game on Feb. 27. Shipp said the school was able to clean up the field quickly, so it did not affect the game.
Shipp said he and Knightdale’s prinicpal, Carla Jernigan-Baker, have been working with students at their respective schools to explain what a healthy and appropriate school rivalry looks like.
“Our teams have been very cooperative in sharing information and being very responsive when things occur,” he said.