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Web of Lies and Cover-Up Mark La Serna High Vandalism Incident

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May 30, 2023

By Brian Hews

Editor’s note: The District has denied that defecation and urination occurred.

Yesterday, Los Cerritos Community News reported that over forty-five La Serna High School students, most of them graduating seniors, took the idea of a senior prank far past the extreme, vandalizing the campus and spray-painting classroom walls; La Serna is part of Whittier Union High School District.

A high-level source at WUHSD told LCCN that several students were among the vandals, children of “influential people in the community,” and that Superintendent Monica Oviedo was attempting to influence disciplinary decisions for certain students.

Emails from parents describe a harrowing tale of vandalism, [the students] “tagged the walls inside classrooms and outside, damaged school property, slashed the tires of school vehicles, and shattered car windows.

They also described a targeted campaign by the students aimed at certain teachers, where the students “defecated and urinated in certain teacher’s classrooms, stole computers, destroyed property and spray painted sexually explicit images on the walls.”

The students allegedly entered the campus using keys that the son of an employee of La Serna stole from his parents, a student whom a parent identified as “Daniel.”

Parents alleged some students were “being protected based on economic, political, and academic status. Some students have been suspended while others remain undisciplined due to their family’s status, political connections to the Whittier City Council, or the fact that the student’s parents work for the District.”

They also alleged that some students were allowed to fully participate in next week’s graduation ceremony while others were excluded and suspended.

In response to LCCN emails yesterday, Superintendent Oveido and the District sent out a statement to LCCN which read, “”No classrooms were accessed by students, and teachers were not targeted. Moreover, there were no incidents involving defecation or urination on the campus and no instances of landscape damage or stolen property. During the incident, air was deliberately let out of the tires of a District vehicle and the windows were shattered. The District and WPD are actively working to address this matter and ensure appropriate actions are taken.”

Now, additional information has emerged that shows a web of lies and possible cover-up by WUHSD Superintendent Monica Oviedo, La Serna High Principal Griselda Castro, and other administrative personnel at the District concerning the vandalism event.

LCCN received a call from a parent whose child was involved in the incident; the parent forwarded a number of emails between him and Castro and Oviedo.

The emails directly contradicted the statement Oviedo and the District sent LCCN yesterday describing the vandalism as an inconsequential event.

Superintendent Oviedo wrote in the email, “This event, which in no way would we consider a tradition, resulted in thousands of dollars in damage to the school and district property. It also diverted our already short-handed and hard-working custodial staff numerous hours to clean up the damage, some of which will take weeks and months to repair. Some of the damage, I fear, will be permanent.”


Email from Oviedo to the parent describing the vandalism as “thousands of dollars and permanent.” Click on image to view larger document.


Another email from the same parent had a May 26, 2023 follow-up letter attached from La Serna Principal Griselda Castro after a meeting between Ms. Castro, Assistant Principal Marco Ramirez, and the parent.

The letter was three days prior to Oviedo’s statement to LCCN, “In assessing the events of Sunday, May 21, the actions of the students that night resulted in thousands of dollars in damage and many hours of clean up by our maintenance staff. This went well beyond what a reasonable person would consider a harmless prank.”


Letter from La Serna Principal Griselda Castro also describing the damage in the “thousands of dollars.” Click on image to view larger document.


Then, just today, LCCN received an email from Lisa Barnes, Intervention Specialist at La Serna High, who vilified yesterday’s LCCN’s article calling it “80% misinformation.”

Like Oviedo, Barnes belittled the vandalism writing, “The vandalism was a few messages in spray paint and a slashing of tires of a service vehicle as well as some damage done with eggs and chocolate sauces. Students who participated in vandalism or invitation to the prank or opening of campus were punished more strictly than ones who TPd [toilet papered] or used sidewalk chalk, etc.”


Email from Lisa Barnes to LCCN describing the vandalism as a “few messages in spray paint.” Click on image to view larger document.


LCCN then sent Barnes Superintendent Oviedo’s email “describing thousands in damage” asking for response, Barnes has not responded at time of publication.

  • Chris says:

    Just bad reporting on your part. It’s a shame that people like yourself rush to blow these stories up in the hopes of a few online “clicks”. Maybe just stick to covering Cerritos instead of vilifying comments made by actual staff members.