Thieves break windows, steal from 3 Lawrence school district vans during student club trip to St. Louis

A group of Lawrence high school students took three school district vans on a trip to St. Louis over the weekend. They had to find different rides home, after all three vans were broken into while the students were touring a museum.

Faculty sponsors called St. Louis police to file a vandalism and theft report about noon on Saturday, Lawrence Public Schools spokeswoman Julie Boyle said, in an email to the Journal-World. Boyle said the students had been at the City Center Museum before returning to the vans to discover the passenger windows of all three broken, and personal items belonging to students and staff members taken from inside.

Boyle said alternate transportation was arranged and that the group of 25 students from Free State and Lawrence high schools returned home safely Saturday night.

The vans’ windows were being repaired in St. Louis, where district staff will pick them up later, Boyle said. She said she didn’t yet have an estimate for damages to the vans or losses from the thefts.

Students on the trip were with the Can we Talk clubs at both high schools. Boyle said those clubs “provide students a safe space in which to discuss current issues related to race and the impact of race on students’ learning and school experiences.” All four district middle schools and a few elementary schools also have similar clubs, she said.