A viral TikTok trend is shutting down bathrooms across Central Texas school districts

Texas

FILE – This Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, file photo, shows the TikTok logo on a smartphone in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Trash strewn on bathroom floors, soap dispensers ripped off, destroyed plumbing: It’s a scene becoming familiar to Central Texas school district leaders.

This week, Lively Middle School principal Stacie Holiday sent a letter to families, saying they’ve been dealing with the “TikTok bathroom challenge” for the last two weeks.

Holiday says most middle schools in Austin Independent School District have reported similar cases and they’ve been able to catch “a majority of students.” The district has contacted those parents and issued consequences.

“Repeat offenders will have severe consequences that go beyond community service, detention, phone calls home, suspensions, and apology letters,” Holiday added. “Criminal mischief is a criminal offense and students found committing these acts could face jail time.”

Holiday says it’s forced them to close restrooms periodically for cleaning and repairs.

Leander ISD reports at least two schools hit by the trend: Vandergrift High School and Leander Middle School.

In a message to parents, LMS’ principal says they are closing “all but 1 boys and 1 girls restroom per grade level.”

The bathrooms will not be open during passing periods and students must leave their backpacks in the classroom.

“We are disappointed to have to make these temporary changes, but it has become a necessity,” the message read.

Vandergrift principal Charlie Little said a handful of students were responsible for vandalism at their school.

“Clearly, causing damage to the very restroom you personally access, requiring the tax entity that your parents and community support to repair, is a poor decision,” Little wrote in a school newsletter.

Little said the school is short seven custodians but they are working to clean and repair bathrooms quickly in order to reopen them. Little says at least three full bathrooms are still open in one building.

Round Rock ISD confirms they’ve also closed some restrooms for cleaning and repairs due to vandalism that they believe is a result of the TikTok trend.

Hays CISD tells KXAN they’re dealing with “several incidents at some of our secondary schools” and are working with school resource officers on investigations.

This is a developing story. If you’re a parent or student who would like to share your concerns, email Tahera Rahman at tahera.rahman@kxan.com.

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