Severely developmentally disabled students at Sherwood Elementary School noticed right away that their fleet of three-wheeled bikes missing when they returned to school on Monday. A security enclosure next to their classroom was broken into and 11 of the 13 bikes were carted away.
“They don’t understand why their bikes are gone and they won’t be riding them,” said Special Education teacher Darlene Pierson.
Pierson and her husband collected the bikes over a 17 year period, buying 6 of them with their own money. The school district bought the others after it discovered that they were valuable to students beyond developing them physically. Many of them have trouble walking.
Principal Carrie Albert said learning to ride a three-wheeled bike affords the students better balance — a skill they can use the rest of their lives.
The bikes are worth from about $400 to $2,500 dollars each. Many have straps for students’ feet and chests so the students are able stay on the them and control the pedals. Pierson said the thieves had to use a large truck because she and her husband can only fit three of the bikes in their pick-up truck.
School officials say he enclosure can’t be seen from the street, so the thieves had to have had knowledge of where the bikes were. The thieves also had to break through a fence that surrounds the campus, as well as the bike enclosure.
Some community businesses and individuals are donating money — and in some cases, replacement bikes. But Pierson says the best possible outcome is if the thief somehow gets a conscience and returns the bikes to the school, no questions asked.