Investigators will not seek hate-crime charges against three students accused of painting anti-Semitic phrases, images and racist statements around their school's campus, a sheriff's department spokesman said.
The three teenagers, who are all in the 11th grade, were booked on felony vandalism charges on Wednesday, said Lt. David Thompson of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff's Station. The boys' names were not disclosed because they are minors.
Investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said the three students confessed to comitting the acts of vandalism as a result of feeling that they had been mistreated during the school year, Thompson said.
The vandalism occurred after 4 p.m. on Friday while the school was on spring break, investigators said. School maintenance workers discovered the vandalism when they arrived for work at about 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Images of swastikas, anti-Semitic messages and racist statements targeting African Americans were spray-painted around the campus, along with the names of two teachers and four of the boys' classmates, Thompson said.
The teachers were identified as Larry Walker and Andrea Camacho, school officials said.
"[The boys'] motivation was they really felt that they were mistreated by these people; they were doing anything they could to upset them," Thompson said.
Investigators determined the three teenagers were not targeting a specific ethnic or religious group. In addition, detectives did not find evidence of racial or religious conflicts at Calabasas High, Thompson said.
The three teenagers submitted written confessions when they were detained and interviewed by sheriff's investigators, Thompson said.
The boys expressed remorse for their actions and displayed a "heightened sense of understanding of the pain that they caused to individuals, school officials and community members," sheriff's Lt. Steven Smith said in a statement.
"They were sorry for what they did," said Calabasas High Asst. Principal Eric Anhalt.
The case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office and Juvenile Court.
Anhalt said the school will seek the "highest level of discipline that's available" against the teenage suspects, though he would not confirm if that would be expulsion.
"We need to send a strong message that what happened was egregious and unacceptable on our campus, and we will recommend a consequence that’s in line with the egregiousness of the act," Anhalt said.
Amanda Susskind, Pacific Southwest regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, commended sheriff's investigators and school officials for their handling of the investigation.
"We applaud the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for their diligence in investigating this crime and the Calabasas High School officials for taking this matter seriously," Susskind said in a statement.
Susskind said the Anti-Defamation League had offered resources to Calabasas High and the Las Virgenes Unified School District to combat "bigotry and hatred."
"What is needed in Calabasas now is an approach that fosters positive intergroup relations, challenges prejudice and enhances learning for all students," she said.
Deputies with the sheriff department's Stop Hate and Respect Everyone (SHARE) program led a discussion on hate crimes at Calabasas High on Tuesday. The deputies are scheduled to return to the school next week.