Teens admit to arson at Woodside Elementary School
Arson and vandalism at Woodside Elementary School over three days in early August have led deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office to make two arrests in a roundup of seven teens from the local community. Four live in Woodside, one in Portola Valley, one in Redwood City and one in unincorporated Redwood City, authorities said.
"All (the teens) admitted to one level or another of association and wrongdoing," Lt. Ray Lunny of the Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies said the arson incidents at Woodside Elementary School occurred between Aug. 5 and 8. The damage included scorch marks on the stage at the school's outdoor amphitheatre, fire damage to three plastic sliding boards in the playground, tire marks in the artificial turf field, and the word "painters" burned into the natural grass field, Lt. Lunny said.
All of the arson-related activities involved the use of gasoline, he said.
And their rationale? "Other than they've got nothing better to do, there is no known logical reason for their behavior," Lt. Lunny said.
Authorities are not releasing the teens' names because they are juveniles. Two attend Woodside High School and there is one each from Menlo School in Atherton, Castilleja (Girls) School in Palo Alto, Everest and Summit Prep charter high schools in Redwood City, and St. Francis High School in Mountain View, deputies said.
The teens range in age from 13 to 16, deputies said. Two are girls.
Details that led to the arrests came on Aug. 18 after questioning by the Redwood City police in connection with a traffic stop, an unlicensed driver, and youths reportedly using baseball bats to damage mailboxes in Redwood City, deputies said.
Two of the teens were booked into Hillcrest Juvenile Hall in San Mateo on charges of misdemeanor arson and vandalism, deputies said. The other five will be participating in the youth diversion program, which includes classes and community service, deputies said.
A parent has stepped in and paid for the damages, including a loss estimated at $13,500 in damage to the sliding boards, Lt. Lunny said. The incidents will not interrupt normal school activities at Woodside Elementary, he said.
The anonymous parent is also paying for a private security guard to patrol the school grounds, Lt. Lunny said.