Suspects have been identified in the vandalism of 41 school buses.
Three Lawrence High School seniors have been suspended from school and are being investigated by police for a costly prank.
Officials believe the youths drained motor oil from 41 buses overnight Sunday at Mayflower Contract Services Inc., the bus company that contracts with the Lawrence school district.
LHS Principal Brad Tate said school officials identified the students and suspended them Tuesday. The three graduating seniors, all boys, also will be barred from prom, commencement and any other extracurricular school activities.
Two clues linked the vandalism to senior week at LHS: A note found on one of the buses Monday said to meet at noon at the high school, and the oil plugs turned up in a box in the LHS library Tuesday morning.
Tate said it wasn't that difficult to pinpoint the culprits.
"There was plenty of information floating around the school," Tate said. "It seems like the kids knew. The same names kept popping up."
Tate said that after talking with the three seniors in his office Tuesday, he had no doubt they were responsible for the vandalism.
Now, it's the police department's turn to investigate the boys.
Police Lt. Ed Brunt said today that detectives were attempting to interview the seniors and hoped to turn over their investigation to the Douglas County District Attorney's office within "the next couple of days."
No arrests had been made as of this morning, Brunt said.
Tim Dennis, facility manager at Mayflower, said damage from the prank amounted to about $20,000. Besides replacing oil plugs on the buses, Mayflower was forced to remove 61 tons of contaminated soil and bring in 300 tons of gravel to restore the parking lot.
"I would like to have full restitution," Dennis said, saying he plans to hand the matter over to Mayflower attorneys.
While the buses were out of service, many parents had to scramble to find other ways to get their children to school Monday morning. The buses were running again that afternoon.
Tate said the three graduating seniors were serving the longest possible short-term suspension of five days. A long-term suspension would not have been appropriate, he said, because "the people involved have not had any problems at school prior to this."
Tate said he was concerned about any bad impressions about LHS created by the vandalism.
"This is not a prank of the senior class. This is those three people's action," Tate said. "I'd say 95 percent of our seniors are having a great time and behaving themselves."
Overnight Tuesday, though, more vandalism was reported. Police said an unidentified teen-age girl sprayed the number "94" on the north wall of the LHS auditorium about 11:05 p.m. Tuesday.
And at 2:40 a.m. today, police said, a Molotov cocktail thrown by an unidentified teen-age boy exploded in an LHS parking lot. Damage reports were unavailable in both incidents.
Tate said six students who brought firecrackers to school also received short-term suspensions and will be barred from the prom.