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Hedgesville High student says tire flattening was 'senior prank'

May 15, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

The 18-year-old Hedgesville High School student charged in the flattening of tires on 85 Berkeley County school buses on April 30 told police that he and three younger students intended to do enough damage to close school for a day as a "senior prank," according a complaint filed in magistrate court.

Joseph Douglas Schildt of 197 Michigan Drive in Falling Waters, W.Va., was arraigned Wednesday on five misdemeanor counts - trespassing, destruction of property, tampering with motor vehicles, conspiracy to commit destruction of property, trespassing and disturbance of schools, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

A $10,600 bond was set for the defendant by Magistrate Sandra L. Miller in his arraignment hearing.

According to the complaint filed by West Virginia State Police Trooper D.S. See, Schildt confessed to the incident and told police he was "too big" to climb over the barbed wire-topped fence that surrounded the school system's transportation department property at 88 Harlan Springs Road. He denied cutting the fence to get to the buses, See said in his report.

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The other three male students - a senior and two juniors - however, each separately implicated Schildt as the one who cut the fence that they climbed over using a piece of carpet, according to the complaint.

After entering the property, See said the students flattened a total of 110 tires on 85 school buses and two passenger vehicles - a Plymouth Acclaim and a Ford Expedition. The tires on the latter were destroyed because they were punctured with an unknown object, police said.

The bus tires were deflated, and the cost to reinflate them and replace valve stems, repair the fence and replace the punctured vehicle tires was $1,327, See said in his report. Other costs, both direct and indirect to the school system as a result of the supposed prank, were $560,685, the trooper said school officials had calculated.

The students' alleged plan was successful in closing school for a day, which was the eighth day that Berkeley County students missed this year. Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II told police the day could not be made up. School officials already extended the school year to the maximum length allowed by state code to make up at least some of the weather-related school closings on the seven other days.

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