Officials from a local Montgomery County child-care organization were on break late last month when someone entered one of their buses, sprayed the inside of the bus with a fire extinguisher, and defecated on the driver’s seat.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Michelle Green, executive director of the nonprofit organization, the Montgomery Child Care Association, which provides child day care and before- and after-school services to about 1,000 students ages 3 to 12 across the county.
The incident took place at the Ivymount School on Seven Locks Road in Potomac, which the Montgomery Child Care Association’s Beverly Farms program rents space from, according to Cindy O’Carroll, the director of the program at the school.
According to O’Carroll, on Dec. 29, an employee of the Ivymount School who had been working at the school over the weekend noticed that one of the Montgomery Child Care Association’s buses parked outside the school was open.
The employee called police, then called her, she said.
O’Carroll said she arrived as police were leaving.
Inside the bus, they found a white film coating the seats and windows and an empty fire extinguisher at the back of the bus.
O’Carroll said the incident left her “disgusted and appalled.”
Police investigated the scene and searched for fingerprints.
“It can be very difficult in these kinds of cases linking [the crime] to any suspects,” County Police Cpl. Rebecca Innocenti said.
Lee Oppenheim, director of finance and administration for the Ivymount School, said the issue has been an “ongoing problem,” and happens more frequently during long breaks like winter and summer, when people aren’t around around.
The Ivymount School has had buses vandalized on other occasions. The school uses the Montgomery Child Care Association buses sometimes, she said.
Police will put extra patrols on, but buses at the school are often vandalized, Oppenheim said.
School officials found a children’s scooter nearby, O’Carroll said. It took them a full day to clean the bus, she said.
“It’s frustrating, but what are you going to do? We don’t even know who’s doing it. It would be helpful if neighbors let us know if they see something happening,” Oppenheim said.
Montgomery Child Care Association’s program at the Ivymount School serves about 50 children, she said.
The buses were parked outside unlocked. She said state laws require that schools not lock bus doors — even they aren’t being used, she said.
“We have to follow their policies,” she said.
Buel Young, a spokesman for the Maryland Vehicle Administration, said buses must have non-locking handles for opening service doors from the outside.
In 2006, buses used by the Ivymount School were also targeted. In those incidents, vandals smashed bus windows and caused hundreds of dollars worth of damages.
Other schools keep buses in secure parking lots behind locked fences, she said.
“Ours are an easy target,” she said.
In other incidents, she said, program officials had found condoms, alcohol bottles, cigarette butts and other items in the bus. The bus’s tires have been slashed, and first aid kits inside have abeen removed.