Who's Responsible?

As was noted in an update in my original post about our Designer Duct Tape Purses 

 http://angelsunafghans.com/blog/?p=50    (“Before” photos and detailed description)

–they were removed without our consent or authorization from the Display Case which is under lock and key and damaged during the decoration event for homecoming apparently during the evening of 10/6/2010.  Bear in mind that these were not something just tossed together but  were one of a kind original designs that required about twelve hours of work and were done with techniques that my daughter and I developed and have not seen elsewhere in this medium.  

Nor, is this an isolated incident.   Last year, a papier mache seahorse came home that had hung in the library.   It had fist marks that had been punched into it.  One would think that something might be safe in a locked display case–but no.  In some respects; this is no real surprise having a prior knowledge of where emphasis is placed at this school which seems to be based upon popularity and sports.  When my son graduated with honors (perfect 5′s in both advanced placement courses, believe he was the only one in his class accepted to Case Western and currently maintaining a 3.7 or above in his second year studying Aerospace Engineering) we all wondered what looked to be the highest rating of stars on the program symbolized.  Upon checking the key, we discovered it was for students who had a parent or parents that was an alumni.  WOW!  That still sets my brain reeling. 

Upon seeing the vandalism done to the purse and cosmetic bag when the items were brought home on 10/7/2010;  I immediately called and spoke to the school Vice Principal who said this was the first that she had heard of the incident and asked me what she should do as they were now already damaged.   It feels like this was just a psychological decoy that administrators use to try and placate callers without actually taking any action.  In an attempt to be civil;  I suggested a talk with the students about respecting property and respecting art. However; the time for this type of talk is LONG past and WAY too late if they haven’t already nailed down this basic principle in elementary school.  The bottom line is that this is an act of VANDALISM which should be dealt with as such.  And, I confess what I was really thinking while speaking on the phone is:   that what the adults who are supposed to function in a supervisory capacity **should** be doing is their respective jobs.

Now, I have a few additional points to ponder~

1.  Who gave out the key to the lock on the display case?  Why were the art projects not moved to another secure area under lock by an ADULT?

2. Was there any adult supervision during the decorating process?

3.  Who were the adults supervising? (Assuming there actually were some.)

4.  WHY are there no consequences for vandalism?

5.  Who authorized having live fish in small CUPS in the hallway as a “decoration”?  Are they in any way familiar with proper fish husbandry or respect for living beings?  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldfish

Numbers Four and Five are my questions of primary concern.  If this incident is blown off as “Kids just ‘wanna’ have fun.”, exactly what is that teaching them as future citizens of the adult real world?  While schools can’t be arbitrators of morals and basic decency that **should** be taught at home; still they **should** be able to maintain some kind of control over students while they are in their charge.

Somebody NEEDS to be responsible.  The buck needs to stop.

As this blog entry goes to press; I’m left with the job of doing repairs for something that never ** should** have happened . . .

It  appears like someone swung the purse around by the handle.  The handle and holders are completely ruined and will have to be replaced.  In order to do this, some of the underlying layers of duct tape on the purse will have to be  removed and replaced.  This is not a simple repair job.

The cosmetic purse is bent in various places and appears to have had things JAMMED into it.  I do not know if this can be pressed out or if it is permanently ruined.  The cosmetic bag was put on display with the zipper open only half way and had tissue paper inside and slightly out of the top.  The tissue paper was not even recovered.

The camera does not adequately capture the damage to the duct tape “ribbons”  some of which were crushed and looks to have been “picked at”.

Close-up of damaged handle and handle holders.

“You may not always be able to turn up the heat and hit the boiling point, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the attempt. It’s what you’d advise others to do and it’s what we should teach our children.”

~Mac Anderson


Here’s what I’m left to deal with and rebuild.  The entire back half of the purse which was a joint project (my daughter and myself) had to be disconnected, the glued in place velcro connector removed, and various layers of duct tape removed.  Suffice it to say that it’s a sticky situation (pun intended).

Although I searched extensively through the online Student Handbook last night; I could not find anything regarding vandalism done to other students work.  Either my eyes were over tired or else there’s nothing there. There was plenty regarding vandalism to school property and  I used ctrl f this morning on the word “responsible” which came up thirty times. The pdf document seems to deal a tremendous amount with parents and students being responsible and who isn’t responsible.  Interesting. I’m not sure if it was the motion of the computer shifting or the actual writing but it felt like a tennis ball match of words. It would seem that something additional needs to be put on the books and then actually be enforced.

I don’t know if the cosmetic bag can be salvaged or not.   It looks like I’m going to learn if you can press duct tape with an iron. This was my daughter’s solo piece; so I certainly hope that it works.

10/8/10 Afternoon

Kaitlin comes home with tissue paper that she was given.  I cannot believe it.   The reason that it was mentioned above in the blog was to illustrate that the cosmetic bag had been tampered with–not because I wanted it back.  Good grief.

She was called into the Vice Principal’s office and told that they didn’t know who ruined her art items.   So that’s apparently “it”?

I was under the impression that there were security cameras in the school hallways and entrance/exits.  The display case is in a hallway.  So, were the cameras not on?  Or what might they have shown?  I’ve yet to receive a reply from the various emails that I sent including those to the school board.


Kaitlin’s purse and cosmetic bag is accepted for the Gallery at Duct Tape Guys.



I receive a hand addressed envelope to my husbands’s nickname and myself with a typed letter inside from the Vice Principal.  Due to copyright laws; I  am not sure if it falls under private correspondance without any expectation of privacy or if it is not to be republished without written permission.  I’ll err on the side of caution and post a summation of the letter. Basically it says that they were unable to conclude who did the damage, they are reviewing procedures and offer compensation (as a statement but there is no actual offer).  The letter is gramatically correct but reads like a standard form reply that one might retrieve from a book of writing examples. 

I’ll leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusion . . .



Duct Tape Purse is now repaired.  http://angelsunafghans.com/blog/?p=337   The cosmetic bag is going to have to be totally redone.  Another job for another day.  This is especially a shame because the little bag was Kaitlin’s solo project.

Kelly Lynn Smith is a National Award Winning Stained Glass Artist and former member of the Professional Dollmaker’s Art Guild having been admitted at the highest entry level with a perfect score on her critiqued sculptures.  She has either written for or had original work in porcelain, polymer clay, and cloth published in every doll making magazine in the USA and continues to expand into various mediums~the latest being duct tape in conjunction with her daughter.

13 Responses to Who's Responsible?

  1. Nancy Watt says:

    I am outraged that such a thing happened. Why? For several reasons:
    First, it’s a matter of respect for the participant’s display. The work, the creative effort and pride in creating these pieces of art. Secondly, repect for school property.
    Who dare go into school property (the display showcase) and vandalize its content.
    Thirdly, who provided ccess to the display? Was there no adult supervision? Which values are taught in this school? Yes, these students are no longer young kids BUT still very much influenced by peer pressure. Where is the adult role model? Where do you draw the line? Letting this situation go without consequence is promoting irresponsibility, lack of respect, lack of teaching values (yes other things can be taught other than geography, math and biology) and lack of leadership.
    These students are our future generation. The future leaders of the country/state/city, the future politicians the future CEO’s and most importantly, the citizens of the United States. Are those kind of values the ones we want for the future of the United States? Worth thinking about!

  2. Mary says:

    All the work it took to create such beautiful work destroyed! Unbelievable! IMO, the damage to the purse and cosmetic bag are the result of young people who lack respect for others ability. (jealousy, plain and simple.) I don’t know if the case was locked or not, (should have been) but there was someone who saw the vandalism. An anonymous note would protect the innocent and the perpetrators found and punished. What is the school doing?

    I’m not sure if it’s the parents who failed to instill respect or if these young people turned their backs on their upbringing. Either way, they should be found out and disciplined.

  3. Holly says:

    I have come to find schools these days set a double standard. They say they teach the students to be responsible for their actions but yet when they are confronted with their own mistakes, they do not take responsibility. The sad fact of the matter is they are to blame for this as well. They should have at the least apologized to you for their lack of supervision. Not to mention, this should be investigated and the guilty parties should be punished. This is an act of vandalism and outside of school there are severe consequences for committing those acts. Being an artist myself, I know how much time you take into your pieces. There is a lack of respect for artwork here not only by the students but by the school itself. Had this have been a school trophy or something of importance to the school themselves, I bet they would be figuring out quickly who did it. I am sorry this happened and wish I could go rally for you myself.

  4. Lenita says:

    What a shame that so little respect is shown now days. Maybe your daughter has just a little be too much ‘mommy’ time for the other students comfort!

    I fully agree that, no matter the reason or excuse, the damage should be compensated some way. I think the whole decorating team should be punished – together- (they’re standing silent together). The adults that should have been there supervising should be punished by having to monitor the punishment – without extra pay. Let the punishment be at least double the hours it took to create the bags, say 24 hours, evenings and Sat. doing research about responsibility, how it was and how it should still be. Maybe they should each be required to create a bag of their own that takes 12 hours to make. Notes asking forgiveness should written by each one before their punishment is complete. And the parents should back the punishment, being thankful that someone wants their child to grow up decent as much as they do!

  5. Chris Bourne says:

    If some one is capable of doing this to a work of art…imagine what they are capable of doing to the children in that school!!!! Respect for people, their feelings and their property should be the first concern of the adults working in that school. How can any child succeed in an environment where their best efforts are destroyed. Shame on the principal who is unable to sustain a safe and creative school :(

  6. Audrey Smith says:

    This is artwork, no less than an original Picasso or ancient Vermier would be, and
    should be treated with equal respect. Maybe they do not have the monitary value of the above mentioned artworks, but still art. All major artists had to start somewhere, and this could be the start of a stellar career in designing. Imagine the worth of these pieces if they were the original start of Coco Chanel or Christian Dior !How dare a school treat them with such cavalier indifference? I would not doubt that criminal charges of malicious mischief at least could be leveled at those responsible. I imagine it also reeks of jealousy. Those that did the act were not talented enough to create such beautiful items, therefore rationalized that they should be destroyed. How shameful that this happened in a place one imagines safe such as a school!
    My condolences to the artist. I know how hard it is to see the result of hours of painstaking work destroyed out of malice , not to mention carelessness on the part of the school officials who should have been overseeing the decorating efforts.

  7. Susan Hassenzahl says:

    What an Outrage and I can’t help but wonder what the respone of school officials would have been if the vandalisim would have been to a sports project. Rarley does a student go on to be a famous sports star. Yet they are treated as Kings at most schools and can do no wrong. Students who excel in other avenues such as art or music are considered less important even though they have as much if not more of a chance at a great future. I agree the decorating commitee obviously knows who is responsible. They should be brought to task and the school officials should be ashamed. Your daughters project was amazing.

  8. Pat Skaggs says:

    Being of the “let the punishment fit the crime” school of thought, I agree with Lenita. All the decorating committee should be required design and complete a set similar to those they damaged, done as the originals were – without external assistance or direction. Further the assignment must be completed to the artist’s satisfaction before the issuance of a diploma or passing to another grade. School staff sponsors/supervisors of the committee should also be required in attendance at all design and creation sessions, without additional compensation and with the understanding that their contracts will not be renewed unless the children complete the project. (yes, if the students are under 18, they are still minors/children – in some states this might be even lower for criminal mischief charges) Unfortunately, since the damage occurred on the”watch” of those staff members, they possibly don’t have the ability or focus needed to insure accurate record keeping and/or completion.

  9. Melissa says:

    These school officials should be ASHAMED!!! How can they NOT assume responsibilty for the damage done to this art project, AS WELL AS the student/s who damaged them??!!
    The PROPER thing for the school to do, is to punish ALL participants in the art projects (since it was most likely damaged by an art student). They should announce to these students, that unless someone come forward and tell who did this act of vandalism, that all of the students will be punished. The should allow students to report the guilty party anonymously if they want to. You can believe that whoever did this has told other students about doing it; and if kids think they’re going to be punished for someone else’s misdeeds, you’d probably be surprised at how many kids will come forward and tell who the culprit is.
    I find it very disturbing that this school is not investigating this incident to find out who had the keys to the enclosed case, whether adult or student.
    The school should also accept the purse and make up bag for judging, even though it was damaged; they can see the amount of work that went into it and the detailing, even though it has been ruined.
    Consider contacting your local news media to get help with this situation, if the school is unwilling to do a proper investigation, assign punishment, and get some answers. They are just as responsible by default for the damaged done to this student’s work, as are the person/s who did the actual damage.

    • angelsunpoodles says:

      Just want to clarify that this was the homecoming decorating committee NOT necessarily art students. I have to fault the adults as it would have to be an adult that handed over the key to the case. Also, being that there are security cameras throughout the school and hallways (the case is in the hallway). Was there no recording of what happened? And what or whom might it have shown? These are all interesting questions. My daughter was given back tissue paper that was taken out of the purses. Apparently, that was thought to be proper compensation and the school response to this act of vandalism. There was no response at all from the school board. Usually those with elected positions want to at least give some appearance of propriety but this total lack of response makes me wonder about the politics involved in the system. In perspective; this is a small incident but it makes one wonder what would happen over something major . . .

      I received this quote in my email this morning and felt that it was appropo~

      “You may not always be able to turn up the heat and hit the boiling point, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the attempt. It’s what you’d advise others to do and it’s what we should teach our children.”

      ~Mac Anderson

  10. Kreg says:

    Geez, that is a shame about your purses. Typical of the administration not knowing what to do, let alone not taking any action. Also, what’s this about live fish in cups in the hallways?! What the hell are these people on?

    Again, sorry about your purses, I know those couldn’t have been easy to make, and are one-of-a-kind, if I’m not mistaken.

    • angelsunpoodles says:

      As you have experienced first hand over a number of years; this type of response (or rather the lack thereof) is atypical. While there is lots of talk of respect and responsibility; it seems that’s where it ends. A lazzez faire attitude only reinforces bad behavior and encourages escalation. So the culprits have destroyed this artwork and gotten away with it–what is next for them?

      I’m interested in action and RESULTS–not a feeble attempt to be placated with words.

      While it does inspire one to explicatives; we both know that is the hallmark of poor writing. Back to English 101 for you? LOL I DO appreciate your support. The world needs more people who stand firm on their convictions.

      I have NO idea who authorized having live fish in cups in the hallway or WHAT on earth they were thinking? There again, I feel that it goes back to a lack of respect~in this case a lack of respect for any living being. It’s easy to rationalize that “it’s only a goldfish” but there again any type of abuse generally begins with more primitive life forms and then escalates. While serial killers are an extreme example, they make the point poignantly being that most if not all began with animals and then worked their way up the life chain.

      It brings to mind the biblical quote~”He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. ” Luke 8:10

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