Superintendent: Vandals deflate school bus tires, endanger kids

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) – The Ocean Springs School District's transportation team spent most of the day Monday checking every tire on its buses for possible leaks.

Sometime over the weekend or overnight, vandals struck the school district's bus barn on Hanley Road.  They let the air out of 84 tires. In all, 47 buses were hit. Only two vehicles were spared.

"I just think it's childish to come in and just destroy, not necessarily destroy, but vandalize something like this.  There's a large community of people out there that depend on the school bus service," said the school district's Transportation Supervisor Tim Weimer.

Fixing the deflated tires wasn't easy, because many of the tires fell off the rims.

"They had to take the valve off and then have a special tool that goes in there and back that valve stem out," said Weimer as he showed what the vandals did to the tires.

"We as a school district don't have the equipment to handle that big of a problem. We had to call several services out of Gulfport to drive up here to help us get the tires mounted back on," said Ocean Springs Superintendent Dr. Robert Hirsch.

Hirsch said whoever committed the crime had to scale a six-foot fence to get onto the property. And they probably spent at least two hours at the bus barn deflating the front tires.

"I'm sure this was all a prank, very possibly pulled off by juveniles. But it has created a safety hazard out at the bus stops, especially for kids Kindergarten, first, second, third grade," said Hirsch.

The district used its emergency messaging system to notify parents that the buses would be running about an hour late.

"I'm very disappointed that anybody would be that careless and thoughtless in terms of the small children. I'm very unhappy about this and I know that a lot of parents are extremely livid that their children would be jeopardized like this," said Hirsch.

All the buses were on the road by 8:30 AM.  Some parents drove their children to school. The next focus for the school district is to track down the vandals.

"We have surveillance cameras that the police are looking at as I speak. No telling who did it," said Hirsch. "I feel that we will get to the bottom of this eventually."

More than 2,500 students, K through 12, ride the bus every day. Hirsch said students who were tardy or absent Monday because of the bus problems can get an administrative excuse so their attendance records won't be affected.

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