BRATTLEBORO — Big plumbing issues caused at Brattleboro Union High School were inspired by a trend known as the “Devious Licks” challenge on the social media service TikTok.
“They see if they can vandalize a bathroom and get it on camera,” Principal Steve Perrin said.
A small group of students are suspected to be behind Monday’s incident at BUHS. On Tuesday night, Perrin said the vandalism is still be investigated by school staff.
He didn’t have an estimate on the total cost of the damage. The piping and plumbing are “OK” but a company needed to be called to clear the pipes and use a camera to survey the issue, he said.
Vandalism was deemed the cause after an abnormal amount of paper towels and toilet paper were found in the pipes, Perrin said. He called the disruption to the school day “the real issue.”
Students had to be rerouted outside for lunch then rerouted again once it started raining, Perrin said.
“The kids were great,” he said. “They took it in stride. Same with staff.”
Perrin said the day created a memory for students.
Similar incidents are appearing in schools around the United States including Harwood Union Middle and High School in Vermont, sparking headlines and causing the social media service to take down videos showing such vandalism.
“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior,” a TikTok spokesperson told Insider.com.
In an email to parents on Monday, Perrin said the school’s maintenance crew “quickly isolated the area where the backup was taking place, closed the area to public traffic and began troubleshooting the problem.”
“We did take a few restrooms out of service, but opened faculty bathrooms for general use to compensate for the closure,” he wrote. “We also needed to reroute our lunch service since the issue required us to access the plumbing under the floor leading to the cafeteria.”
Perrin asked students with knowledge about the vandalism to speak with school staff, telling them their input would be confidential. Students responsible for the damage were asked to stop.
“In addition to the inconvenience to the school community, it is also an unnecessary financial cost,” Perrin wrote. “This type of behavior is not acceptable at BUHS and runs counter to the values of our school. We will continue to investigate this vandalism.”