Toilet paper strewn through campus, mascots temporarily switched or even school colors flown atop a competitor's flag pole: typical but essentially harmless pranks played against contenders of a storied rivalry are expected.
Clark County School District officials haven't seen such pranks get criminal -- until now.
Sheets of green butcher paper covered the painted obscenities across the quad at Palo Verde High School on Tuesday.
But the rest of the vandalism -- tags "BGHS" and "BGHS Seniors FTW" (for the win) painted in Bishop Gorman's colors of blue and orange -- streaked the concrete, planter walls and panther statue at the center of campus.
"This is unusual," said Michael Rodriguez, a spokesman for the district. "It goes beyond a prank and into a criminal level."
School police are investigating, but by 5 p.m. Tuesday they hadn't determined who is responsible for the vandalism. School District police Lt. Ken Young said he wouldn't have any information regarding the case until today.
Rodriguez said the district hopes the graffiti will be cleaned up by today. The cost to remove the paint had not been assessed as of Tuesday afternoon, he said.
Palo Verde and Bishop Gorman are football and basketball powerhouses and have developed a rivalry, meeting in the regionals the past several seasons. The Palo Verde Panthers defeated the Gorman Gaels in the Sunset Region title football game in 2008, but the past two years, Gorman beat Palo Verde and went on to win the state championship. Gorman beat Palo Verde for the state basketball title in 2009. The Gaels also beat Palo Verde in the basketball regionals in 2010 and 2011.
"It's been going on for quite a while," Palo Verde senior Sean Wilson said of the rivalry. "It's not quite every sport, but a lot of the big ones, the ones people care about."
Wilson, 17, said school administrators seemed "pretty upset" about the graffiti during senior orientation Tuesday. He said administrators told the seniors that if Palo Verde students were involved in the vandalism or are caught retaliating, they could lose their right to walk at graduation or not receive their diploma at all.
Palo Verde administrators declined to comment, directing all questions to the district office, which said the consequences would be left up to school police.
Bishop Gorman officials issued a statement saying that if the investigation finds that the school's students were involved, administrators will take "appropriate action," but they did not elaborate.
Wilson said he wouldn't be surprised if the vandals turned out to be Palo Verde students posing as Bishop Gorman seniors . He said there are always rumors about senior pranks toward the end of the school year.
Last week, Wilson said, Palo Verde seniors started a small water fight with squirt guns and water balloons in the quad, but it didn't last long before administrators put a stop to it.
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