Racist, homophobic graffiti part of string of Halloween night vandalism at Los Gatos High

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Groups of vandals target Los Gatos High on Halloween night
Groups of vandals target Los Gatos High School with racist, homophobic graffiti in a string of Halloween night vandalism.

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KGO) -- On Halloween night, three separate groups of vandals targeted Los Gatos High School.

Principal Kevin Buchanan said school custodians arrived to extensive vandalism.

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He said in a span of 90-minutes, a student's prize-winning 529-pound pumpkin was smashed to the ground by one group. Surveillance footage shared with ABC7 News shows another, taking part in school-wide egging.

"They came with cartons of eggs. They were filming it on their phones," Buchanan described. "We saw that on our surveillance video. And they went from building to building and egged almost every building."

However, it's the actions of a third group that are being considered the most disturbing.

"They spray-painted racist and homophobic slurs across campus," Buchanan said. "And in some cases, targeted specific teachers by name on their classroom walls-windows."

VIDEO: Los Gatos woman accused of hosting underage sex parties arraigned in San Jose

Shannon O'Connor made her first appearance in a Santa Clara court Wednesday as she has been charged with 39 counts of different acts against minors.

Principal Buchanan took office on July 1st. He said he was made aware of "challenges," even understanding some instances of bad behavior are beyond the high school.

He explained the graffiti is not isolated to the campus. Buchanan said a teacher's home was targeted with similar vandalism as well.

"That situation is beyond the high school," he maintained. "Our high school is a challenge. We are an open campus. We maintain kind of a collegiate-type environment here, where all the buildings have different departments, and there are no fences around our campus."

Councilmember Matthew Hudes said Tuesday, "Of course the schools have a great deal of responsibility for shaping behaviors of students, but parents are often involved."

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At Tuesday's Los Gatos Town Council Meeting, members and the school district addressed underage drinking, drug use and parties.

Councilmember Maria Ristow added, "The fact that we have parties where parents are present and providing alcohol is, in my view, the top concern that this council should be addressing."

The discussion surrounded harsher punishment for parents who host parties and provide alcohol to those underage, and for kids caught breaking the rules. An attempt to strengthen the town's Social Host Ordinance and update Youth Party Guidelines.

Currently, though, it's an ongoing conversation. Buchanan said it's an effort that will rely on the entire community.

"I think it's just that," he told ABC7 News on Wednesday. "It's that we all hold up our end."

At Tuesday's meeting, Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School Superintendent Dr. Mike Grove admitted, "We aren't naive enough to believe that strengthening the Social Host Ordinance will stop underage drinking on its own, but it certainly can help to build community awareness. To send a powerful message to our community that underage drinking is not acceptable."

Back on-campus and with her father's permission, ABC7 News spoke with LGHS junior, Lilly DeFilippo-Fry.

"I also think that parents should help their kids understand what right is from wrong," she added. "Because I do believe that some people do go to parties really just to be in that kind of environment with those kind of people, without the drugs and alcohol use."

She's convinced any effort to crack down on the known culture of bad behavior will take some time.

"I don't think it's gonna be this instant, overnight change. And personally, being a junior, I don't think this is going to be fixed before I graduate," she told ABC7 News. "And my sister's a freshman, and I don't think it's going to be fixed before she graduates either."

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Referring to the Halloween vandalism, DeFilippo-Fry shared, "It upsets me that people would go out of their way to say something about a teacher that they go and probably see day-to-day."

Adding, "I don't think that they see that it's them damaging the campus. I think that they see it as, 'Oh, it's me and my friends coming to have a fun time on campus.' When in reality, we should all be grateful for where we are and what we have."

Principal Buchanan shared, "We're shaken by this and we're really saddened and disappointed that people think, in this day and age, that this would somehow be acceptable, funny or tolerated."

Buchanan uploaded a video to YouTube, asking the community to help the school hold the vandals accountable. Confidential and anonymous reporting could be made here.

Stay with ABC7 News for the latest details on this developing story.