Soap dispensers have started disappearing from several Pasco County high school restrooms. Urinals have been broken, toilet bowls filled with Kool-Aid, exit signs stolen.
All because of a new social media craze encouraging students to perform a “devious lick” at their schools. It started on TikTok earlier this month. Shortly after the site banned videos about the “crate challenge,” which left many people injured as they climbed stacks of empty milk crates, the trend of posting about stolen school items took its place.
Pasco school district officials want it to stop.
“I am very disappointed to hear about the destructive actions of some students, and the damage they are doing in our high schools and even some of our middle schools,” School Board member Colleen Beaudoin said during a Tuesday evening meeting.
“When these students are caught, their discipline needs to be commensurate with the damage that is being done,” Beaudoin said. “Our students know better than to be destructive, and there will be no tolerance for this type of behavior.”
That’s already begun to happen.
“We are using camera footage (when possible) as well as witness statements. We will pursue school and legal consequences if appropriate, as well as financial restitution for vandalized school property,” Zephyrhills High principal Christina Stanley said of her efforts to deal with the situation on her campus.
It’s not as if students haven’t been warned.
After an incident at Mitchell High, principal Jessica Schultz made an all-school announcement that got recorded and shared on TikTok alongside the message “ya’ll went too far,” where it got more than 11 million listens.
“Because of the antics of a few, we have had to close the purple bathroom for the boys,” Schultz said. “We don’t have any soap in the boy’s restrooms ... nor do we have any more soap dispensers.”
She reminded student to use any of the several hand sanitizer stations on campus after leaving the restrooms.
“When we do catch you, we will discipline you to the fullest extent,” she continued. “You will be arrested and you will be responsible for any of the monetary damages that have been done. This needs to stop.”
Schultz also sent a message home to parents, asking them to have conversations with their children about vandalism and stealing.
In a statement, TikTok said, “We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we do not allow content that promotes or enables criminal activities. We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our Community Guidelines to discourage such behavior.”
School district spokesperson Steve Hegarty said school leaders hoped to downplay the activities, handling them internally before they could get out of hand.
At Zephyrhills, for instance, Stanley said she spent time celebrating the positive things going on in school.
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“We have a lot of great students who do not condone this behavior and do not want it to affect their campus,” she said.
Still, the cases keep cropping up.
On Monday, River Ridge High principal Toni Zetzsche sent a message to parents seeking their help. The subject line: “Do you know what a lick is?”
“As a principal, I cannot fathom why students would want to destroy their own school (or any place really). This is something that has been happening at many other schools and I am disheartened that RRHS has been targeted several times today,” Zetzsche wrote, after explaining the term.
Like the others, she said punishment will come when the culprits are found. She stressed that most students would not support the actions, and suggested that conversations at home might lead to them telling friends at school not to break the law.
Beaudoin said it shouldn’t be necessary for principals to have to make such announcements. They have many more important things to deal with, she added.
“At a time like this, really, people don’t need to be dealing with something like this,” Beaudoin said Wednesday. “It’s ridiculous.”
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