Police have charged three DeKalb Alternative School students with criminal damage to property in connection with the vandalism of the pool in the Hearthstone community off Memorial Drive, according to a DeKalb county police report.
Police responded at 9 a.m. Thursday to the call. Witnesses told police they saw “several juveniles at the community pool throwing items around and breaking items,” the report said.
One witness described two suspects: one brown skin female with her hair pulled back in braids, and a tall male with a tan and blue jacket and tan pants, according to the report.
Officers with the Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET) stopped 23 DeKalb Alternative School students in the area and issued truancy citations, according to the report. But the Hearthstone witnesses told police none matched the description. The students were returned to the school, the report said.
At about 11:46 a.m., a call was dispatched about a fire at the Hearthstone community pool clubhouse. Responding NET officers found three juveniles at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Hearthstone Drive, and determined that they were skipping school, police said in the report.
The witness who gave the description identified the juveniles as the ones who damaged the pool, police said.
The students were charged and taken to juvenile intake. An arson investigator and a detective also responded.
–Updated May 2, 5 p.m. with comments from Walter Woods, spokesman with the DeKalb County School System:
“We take truancy of any kind very seriously, particularly at DeKalb Alternative School. We’re willing to keep working with them [residents and businesses near the school] to address their concerns. We’ll keep the dialogue going, hear them out.
“If we find our students were involved, we’ll take appropriate action as well,” he said.
That action could be “discipline up to suspension. We have a number of options,” Woods said.
When asked if additional security would be added to the school, Woods said: “We have pretty solid security measures across the district.”
The community has voiced concern about the DeKalb Alternative School. At a Pride Rings in Stone Mountain (PRISM) meeting in March, in which DeKalb Schools superintendent Cheryl Atkinson spoke, resident and PRISM member Jan Dunaway talked about how students cut through the properties of businesses in order to get to the school on Memorial Drive near Hairston Road. “We have businesses that are greatly disturbed because of the students,” Dunaway said at that meeting.
On Friday, Vernell Kimbrough, president of the Hearthstone Community Club, said there have been ongoing problems with DeKalb Alternative School students in the neighborhood.
“The continuous issue is the school itself being on Memorial Drive,” said Kimbrough, who has lived in the area for 12 years. “If the county is really serious about revitalizing Memorial Drive, no businesses are going to support that area while that school is there.”
“They need to move this school. They need to be a good neighbor,” he said.
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