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Rowdy behavior on playground reported to Orchard Park board

An Orchard Park youth picked an inopportune time to get into mischief on the South Davis Elementary School playground Tuesday evening.

The Orchard Park School Board was meeting in the cafeteria at the time. And while two parents were discussing concerns about rowdy behavior at the playground, Superintendent Joan Thomas was called out into the hall by a police officer who apprehended the youngster.

He was "holding a young man who was on the playground a half-hour ago, and acting inappropriately, and mouthed off to the police officer," Thomas said.

She told the officer if police supply the district with the names of students caught at the playground, administrators will talk to them.

"I have a list," Thomas said, holding up a small piece of paper. "If they were to continue to talk inappropriately, on the playground -- we will move forward with charging them with trespass."

She said police charged the youth with disorderly conduct Tuesday night. Parent Nancy Hartung of Thorn Avenue said the playground is posted to be used for children ages 5 to 12, but young teenagers are hanging out there. The $250,000 playground was installed over the summer, after the PTO raised 30 percent of the cost as the local share. State aid paid for the rest of the cost.

"There's increased younger adolescent behavior before dark. There are children playing on the playground inappropriately," she said. "These children are swearing and drinking and unfortunately, they're chasing away a lot of the people in the community."

She said they are disrespectful and rude when they are approached by adults.

"Our concern is mainly the safety of these children themselves. Even though they're mischievous, we don't want any child to be hurt," she said.

The superintendent said police responded to four incidents at the playground last month. The district will ask neighbors to call police when they see something out of line.

"The police have responded when people have called," she said. The South Davis custodian also has notified police of suspicious activity at the playground.

"He called them back around 8 o'clock tonight," Thomas said. She said it would be difficult to find money in the budget to install a security camera for the playground. District officials are hopeful the word will get around, and the activity will stop.

Also Tuesday night, the board learned that there are no classes that are larger than the district's size guidelines. Last year there were nine classes above the guidelines, said Assistant superintendent for Human Resources Cam Morton. The School Board realigned the district's four elementary schools to address the crowding issue.

There are 5,316 students enrolled this year, compared with 5,325 last year, he said.


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