By Bob Skolnik
Riverside police have issued a 15-year-old girl two local ordinance citations for allegedly writing racist graffiti with a marker in a girls' bathroom at Riverside-Brookfield High School on at least two separate occasions.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that the girl confessed to writing the graffiti, but she denied that they were racist.
One time the girl told police that she wrote "Whites Only." Another included a derogatory term for people of Hispanic origin, Weitzel said.
The girl, who is Hispanic, was new to RBHS last year and told police that she was unhappy and wanted to go back to her former school.
"She actually said that she wanted to bring attention to herself, because she wanted to go back to the school she was at before she transferred to RB and she had thought that maybe this would get her back to her original school," Weitzel said.
The girl was released to the custody of her mother. Such violations typically are resolved with small fines, community service and/or counseling.
Because the graffiti was written with a marker, could be easily wiped off and caused no significant financial cost to the school, both police and school officials decided to cite he girl for disorderly conduct rather than a more serious misdemeanor like criminal damage to property.
Local ordinance violations do not carry criminal sanctions and do not create a criminal record. Weitzel said the girl did not have a prior disciplinary record at RBHS.
School officials confronted the girl on the morning of Oct. 3 before notifying police. Racist graffiti was found at the school on the afternoon of Oct. 2. Some students saw the graffiti and quickly notified school officials.
"Students immediately came forward which allowed us to begin our investigation right away instead of going on social media, and that gave us a lot of information," said RBHS Principal Kristin Smetana. "That's why we were able to successfully identify the student involved."
The student was identified and questioned while a workshop was being held in the school's fieldhouse to combat bullying and promote a more welcoming and inclusive school climate.
Racist graffiti was first found in a girls' bathroom at the school last November. Similar graffiti was again found in the same bathroom shortly after school started in August. The graffiti found Monday was found in a different girls' bathroom. Weitzel said the girl did not specifically admit to the graffiti found in August.
In addition to the community ordinance violation for disorderly conduct, the student will face also disciplinary action from the school.
"The school will be issuing appropriate consequences for the student's actions," said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis.