Vandalized Helena Head Start building to remain closed for rest of school year

Megan Michelotti

Holes had been punched into the walls, cleaning supplies had been dumped out, fire extinguishers had been discharged, trash had been strung about, and paint and glue had been emptied all over the walls, ceilings and floors.

That was the scene when the staff of the Rocky Head Start early childhood education program walked into their building at 940 N. Roberts St. the last week of August.

“My first thought was if someone had put this much effort into doing something good, they would’ve accomplished something really great,” said Ashley Peña-Larsen, Head Start program director.

About 16 Helena children ages 3 to 5 were getting ready to start their school year on Sept. 6 with the Rocky Head Start program when staff learned that the building had been vandalized beyond use.

“We had been in the building the 22nd and 23rd and thought something was a little off,” said Peña-Larsen. “We had gone through security cameras and figured out someone had been using the building in the summer to live.”

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Peña-Larsen got a call on Aug. 28 from Helena Housing Authority, which rents the building to

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