Verona Area School District administrative building March 2020

The outside of the Verona Area School District administration building.

Verona Area School District administrators are asking for parents’ help in avoiding TikTok challenges that encourage damage to or theft of school property for online clout – because the behavior might land a student in suspension or have them recommended for expulsion.

District superintendent Tremayne Clardy made the plea to families in a Monday, Oct. 4, video that was published on the district’s website and on YouTube, where he took a clear stand on the “Devious Licks” TikTok trend – the district was not going to tolerate any kind of criminal behavior.

“One of the key goals of the Verona Area School District is to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment for students and staff; however, we’re disappointed in the first in a series of TikTok challenges is affecting our schools, and we are asking our entire school community to help us stop it,” he said in the video. 

In the video, Clardy said that some of the damage the district had seen was theft of soap dispensers and toilet paper from school bathrooms, which he said created a mess for staff to clean up. A records request about the amount of other damage done in the district’s schools was still in process of being fulfilled as of late Monday morning.

The “Devious Licks” TikTok challenge that gained popularity in September and have continued into October have encouraged students across the country to steal or damage school property, and then post a video of themselves with it, with the main target often being bathroom property such as soap dispensers and mirrors, but has spread to other classroom items such as exit signs or telescopes.

Some of the videos have been staged to make it look like students have stolen something, but it’s actually an item they own; other students across the country have resulted in students being arrested and charged with theft or battery.

The October version of the challenge encourages students to elevate their actions into hitting a teacher, with the recommendation often being on the back of the head, which Clardy called “concerning.”

Clardy said that if any students are considering hitting or assaulting a staff member, they’re automatically facing a suspension or recommendation for expulsion, as well as a referral for criminal charges.

“These TikTok challenges are not innocent pranks,” he said in the video. “When students choose to participate in these actions, it affects us all … let’s not allow illegal and reckless social media stunts to take away a student’s education, or having long-lasting impacts on their future.”

 

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