School Board Approves $1,000 Reward for Information on Vandals

School Board President Kevin Honnell and Board Member Judy Bjarke-McKenzie discuss vandalism at Piňon Elementary. Photo by Kirsten Laskey/
By Kirsten Laskey

On Saturday evening, Jan. 25, Piňon Elementary School was “tagged” by vandals. The graffiti consisted of a number of vulgar and inappropriate words and phrases.

The Los Alamos Public School Board is working to make sure the Piňon Elementary School vandals are caught.

During a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 30, the board unanimously approved a $1,000 reward for anyone who will provide information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) who spray-painted obscenities on the elementary school’s exterior walls.

Board Member Judy Bjarke-McKenzie said the district received calls about the vandalism Sunday morning. School staff, along with community members, brought out power-washers to erase the vulgar words Sunday.

Now that the vandal’s handiwork has vanished, it is time to send a strong message to the guilty party or parties, Bjarke-McKenzie said.

Superintendent Gene Schmidt emphasized that if those who committed the crime are students in the district, the appropriate level of discipline will be administered.

Cpl. Jordan Redmond of the Los Alamos Police Department reported that the vandalism that marred Piňon Elementary School is the largest incident of this kind seen so far in Los Alamos.

While the Los Alamos Police Department has a list of possible suspects, “We don’t have anything very concrete,” Redmond said.

Board President Kevin Honnell asked Piňon Elementary School Principal Jill Gonzales if the incident had any impact on students.

Gonzales said there has been no real impact although students and staff have been notified about the vandalism.

Honnell also asked if there was support from staff to find the individuals responsible.

Gonzales replied, “The staff is 110 percent behind finding out who is responsible, because they are disgusted, and they want whoever did this caught.”

Schmidt and Honnell issued the following statement to media outlets this morning:

LAPS Offers Reward to Solve this Crime

Saturday evening, January 25, the exterior of Pinon Elementary School was defaced by vulgar and offensive graffiti. Thanks to Pinon residents, the news of the offensive comments and pictures was quickly brought to our attention and cleanup crews dispatched to remove the hateful comments.

In response, the School Board voted in a special session Wednesday evening to send a message that our district will not tolerate vandalism to our schools. Acting on the recommendation of Superintendent Gene Schmidt, the Board of Education has offered a $1000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for this act.  

People who believe they may have helpful information can call the LA Police at 662-8222 or send an anonymous note to Superintendent Gene Schmidt, 2075 Trinity Dr., Los Alamos, NM 87544.  If you have a tip, you may remain completely anonymous and still collect the $1,000 reward.  

Any and all reward monies paid will come from the Board’s rainy-day fund – monies collected from the rental of school-owned facilities, like the Pueblo Complex, to outside tenants — so there will be no money taken out of the classroom and no impact to the operating budget.

Our community places a high value on our schools. Having just asked our citizens to dig into their pockets and support the bond, your Board gives you our assurance that we will safeguard the value of your investment.  That includes not tolerating willful and mean-spirited defacing of your public property. To our neighbors living near Pinon, and all our schools, we are committed to ensuring that your neighborhood remains a beautiful, wholesome, attractive place to call home.

We are asking for your help. The offensive comments and vulgar drawings were spray painted in red, black, and blue. As such, parents may want to check to see if they are missing spray paint from their garage; and if their children had blue, red, or black paint on them Sunday morning, perhaps they should be asking some tough questions at the dinner table.

Kevin Honnell
President, Los Alamos School Board

Dr. Eugene Schmidt
Superintendent, Los Alamos Public Schools


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