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'Community Should Be Offended' By Words Painted on WHS Sign

Vandalism to the Wayland High School sign early Sunday morning called "hateful" in nature by superintendent.

The two words scrawled in black spray paint on the Wayland High School granite sign left high school and district administrators both “disappointed” and “outraged.”

At around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, during a routine police check, Det. Ruth Backman drove past Wayland High School at 264 Old Connecticut Path to find the words “is gay” spray painted beneath the engraved words “Wayland High School” on the south side of the granite sign marking the entrance to the school’s campus.

In her report, Backman noted that the vandalism occurred some time between midnight and 6:30 a.m., May 22. Backman was able to see a partial heel impression in the dirt by the sign “that appeared to be a smaller sneaker size.” According to the report, there were not visible tire tracks and the detective did not locate the can of spray paint at the scene.

“Collectively, the entire community should be offended,” Superintendent Gary Burton said. “Because of the nature of this vandalism – because it attacked a particular group – what I’m focusing on is the hateful nature of it.”

WHS principal Pat Tutwiler could not be reached for comment Monday, but Burton said he had spoken with the principal and steps were being taken to appropriately handle the situation among the high school students.

“We [Tutwiler and Burton] are both disappointed and outraged,” Burton said. “But I do believe an act of vandalism can be turned into a teachable moment. This is an opportunity for us to declare our values and what we stand for and what we don’t stand for.”

In a Sunday afternoon email sent to a high school listserv,” Tutwiler informed readers of the crime and said he wanted to take the opportunity “to reassert who [we] are as [a] learning community.”

Calling the act of vandalism “cowardly,” Tutwiler wrote, “While any form of vandalism on the campus we care so deeply about is unacceptable, the act becomes all the more troubling, however, when the chosen form of damage/words is such that underscores an attitude of intolerance toward a part of the Wayland family as integral and important as any other.”

Burton said he and Tutwiler are not so much focused on determining who committed the act – until proven otherwise they are operating under the assumption that it was not a high school student – as they are in making sure the school and community learn from it.

“It did happen, and we’re not just going to clean it up and pretend it didn’t happen,” Burton said. “This violates our core values. We value everyone within the school community. This has major consequences in this community as a whole.”

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