West locked down after graffiti found

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By David Giuliani

West Las Vegas High School went in lockdown mode for awhile Wednesday morning after school officials discovered freshly drawn graffiti in one of the restrooms.

Superintendent Jim Abreu said the officials found it right after school started in the morning. He said Principal Gene Parson aimed to show that the school wouldn’t tolerate graffiti and that he wanted to “nip it in the bud.”

“The principal got upset, and he called an internal lockdown of all the classrooms. They went classroom to classroom to see if they could find the materials for the graffiti,” Abreu said. “If we can catch them, they’ll suffer the consequences. It’s kids not taking care of their own school.”

Abreu said the matter was being taken care of internally and that city police weren’t called in. West Las Vegas is a closed campus.

It wasn’t clear how exactly the district was searching for the items used to create the graffiti.

Jane Gagne, an attorney with the New Mexico branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said Wednesday that schools can search lockers because that’s public property. But she said that if school officials search backpacks and purses, they have to have an “individualized reasonable suspicion” that the student has banned items in his or her belongings.

“Blanket, random searches are unconstitutional,” she said.