School administrator pulls gun on staff

auroraprep

Aurora, Colorado: home to the 2012 movie theater mass shooting that left a city, and a nation, in mourning, once again questioning what the Second Amendment means and how it should be implemented; now also home to Aurora West College Preparatory Academy, where an administrator brandished a gun at a staff meeting on Wednesday, threatening fellow employees at the school.

Tushar Rae, Dean of Instruction at the school, was arrested Wednesday on charges of bringing a concealed weapon to school and making violent threats. An arrest affidavit filed in district court says Rae took a gun from his waistband during a meeting with principal Taisiya Tselolikhin (say that name three times, fast) earlier that day, placed it on a table between them and threatened to shoot two school administrators.

The altercation apparently had something to do with test scores, and subsequently prompted a lockdown of the school while Rae left the premises – he was later arrested at his home.

A letter to families, which follows below, was made available in both English and Spanish via email and the school website. As usual, vagueness was the order of the day.

INFORMATION ABOUT THE AURORA WEST LOCKDOWN

APS Community:

I know that many of you may have questions about the lockdown that occurred at Aurora West College Preparatory Academy on Wednesday. First off, I want to thank the students and staff at AWCPA for following our safety and security protocols seamlessly. I also want to thank parents at AWCPA for their patience and support. Safety is our top priority.

We acknowledge that many of you have questions and may be frustrated. Please know that this is both an ongoing criminal investigation and personnel matter. We have many limitations we must adhere to in order to respect both processes.

During emergencies, we understand the urgent and important need to communicate with our community. Please know that we always work to share information that is timely, accurate and actionable through phone calls, emails and text messages. We cannot share information that is not confirmed, information that would compromise an ongoing criminal investigation or protected personnel information.

We have been working closely with the Aurora Police Department, Denver Police Department and other law enforcement agencies as their criminal investigation continues. Our focus remains on providing as much support to our students, staff and community as possible.

Many of you may be seeing media reports that have raised concerns. APS staff have met with AWCPA staff, students and families to address concerns. We appreciate the opportunities we have had to talk with the school community throughout this week.

We know that this event has been upsetting for students and staff. We have had and will continue to have counselors available for those who need support. Counselors will continue to be available at Aurora West on Monday and throughout next week.

I would like to thank the AWCPA family for your vigilance, teamwork and support. It has been an extremely tough week and we will continue to work together to heal, support our students and each other.  

Rico Munn
Superintendent
Aurora Public Schools

Aurora West College Preparatory Academy, located just 15 minutes from where the mass shooting in 2012 that left 12 people dead and 70 injured, has a 3/10 rating on GreatSchools, citing low test scores (in some cases as low as 2% passing — far below state averages) and poor college readiness – proof, I think, that a fancy-sounding school name is not enough to get prepare youth for college. The school also boasts a 95% minority student population.

Educator accused of taking gun to school, threatening staff

GreatSchools – Aurora West College Preparatory Academy

Dean at Aurora West College Preparatory Academy arrested after lockdown

Aurora West Preparatory Academy – Official Website

Teacher forces student to wipe off Ash Wednesday cross

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@artz on UnSplash

Bountiful, Utah, situated less than a half hour north of Salt Lake City, is the state’s 15th largest city. Its residents primarily belong to a Christian sect known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and are often collectively referred to as Mormons. There was, however, no Christian understanding for a fourth grade boy who was forced by his teacher to wipe off his Ash Wednesday cross yesterday.

“I’m Catholic. It’s the first day of Lent. It’s Ash Wednesday,” William McLeod told his friends when they asked what was on his forehead. As one of the few observant Catholics at Valley View Elementary in Bountiful, McLeod said he was the only one who came to school that day with ashes. Apparently, it was too much for his classroom teacher, who later approached him and asked him to remove the religious symbol. He tried to explain his reasons for keeping it, to no avail. McLeod informed his family when he returned home, and they approached the teacher, citing the boy’s First Amendment rights (which are notoriously infringed upon in public schools). The teacher claimed to have never read the Constitution.

Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams apologized, as did the unnamed teacher – the latter, with a handwritten note and candy (interesting to note: many Catholics give up something for the 40 days of Lent, and candy is a common sacrifice). The teacher may face disciplinary action.

If schools in a conservative state like Utah can’t seem to honor people’s religious beliefs (especially when those beliefs are Christian), what hope do more liberal states have? The pressure to keep schools as secular as possible (though, some will argue, the push has more to do with keeping Christianity out of schools, not other religions) has some teachers acting in ways they might not otherwise have thought wise.

Utah teacher forced student to wash off Ash Wednesday cross on forehead, family says

Utah teacher forced student to wash Ash Wednesday cross off his forehead

 

Middle school students threaten to shoot teacher and her family

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A teacher is sleeping a little easier tonight now two of her students at Southwood Middle School in Palmetto Bay, Florida were arrested Sunday after they threatened, via Instagram, to kill her and her children on Valentine’s Day. The news comes as Florida mourns the anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

 

The victim, a 36-year-old teacher who by many accounts is beloved by her students, was told “You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day for making my life I’m finna kill all yo family and shoot up yo bitch ass school.”  They also brought to her attention a picture of her infant daughter. The woman, fearing for her life and that of her family, contacted police, who were able to trace the bogus social media account account (appropriately-named, and very indicative of the young children who created it, “Southwood School Shooter”) and arrest a 13-year-old child, who then implicated his 12-year-old friend as an accomplice. Both boys confessed and were charged with Aggravated Stalking and Written Threats To Kill or do Bodily Injury and taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools issued the following statement through their Superintendent, Alberto Carvalho:

“Recent arrests of students for hoax social media threats demonstrate clearly and unequivocally that Miami-Dade County Public Schools has a zero-tolerance policy related to this type of activity. Parents and students must understand that any threat – real or fabricated – to schools and students is a serious matter. It is unacceptable and those involved in such activity will be prosecuted. Prank and hoax threats made against a school are counterproductive to the life-saving work of law enforcement and compromise the safety of everyone.”

Televised interviews show parents who seem content to believe that the district has done enough to keep their children safe, and that they do an adequate job of communicating all of the potential threats in their schools to families. Some believe it’s not that serious because it’s “most likely” just a hoax, anyway.

DCPS states they’ve received 60 threats to their schools in 2019, and 12 of them have resulted in arrests.

Southwood Middle School is the site of a fatal stabbing that took place in 2004, when Michael Hernandez murdered classmate Jaime Gough, earning him a life sentence. Both victim and perpetrator were 14.

Today, the school boasts a positive report on GoodSchools.Org, with above average test scores in the state for both reading and math, as well as a decent representation of ethnicities among the student population. Southwood serves approximately 1500 students in grades 6 through 8.

2 Southwood Middle School students accused of threatening to shoot teacher

Two Southwood Middle School Students Arrested For Threatening To Shoot Up School, Kill Teacher

Southwood Middle Students Threaten to Kill Teacher on Valentine’s Day

Press Release – Hoax Threat to M-DCPS School Results in Arrests

‘You and your children are next on Valentine’s Day.’ Boys threaten teacher, police say.

(2016 article) Student who stabbed classmate to death at Southwood Middle returns to court for sentencing

Southwood Middle School Center for the Arts

GreatSchools.Org – Southwood Middle School

Teen steals, then runs over accuser

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A 16-year-old boy was arrested after he allegedly ran over a woman with his car after she accused him of stealing, leaving the victim in critical condition.

Some articles said she confronted him about stealing candy or “packaged food items,” while others assert it was money that was pilfered. Either way, the incident took place in Thousand Oaks High School in Thousand Oaks, California, during a basketball game last Friday evening. Lisa Solis, an activities assistant at the school, witnessed the teen stealing from a concession stand at the event, and confronted him about it when he fled outside to a Mercedes Benz sedan in the parking lot along with four of his friends. Solis stood in front of the car to prevent him from leaving when he decided it’d be a good to idea to not only use the car to knock her to the ground, but run over her as he left the scene. She was subsequently rushed to the hospital, and police quickly caught up with the unnamed teen, who was taken into custody on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, and booked at Ventura County’s Juvenile Justice Center.

Solis remains in critical condition with extensive injuries, including bleeding on the brain, broken ribs and collar bone, punctures in both lungs, and a broken jaw. Her family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical bills.

Thousand Oaks High School is part of Conejo Valley Unified School District and serves approximately 2300 students in grades 9 through 12. Nestled in an affluent, primarily-white neighborhood where homes regularly sell for well over half a million dollars, the school boasts a 98% graduation rate, and above average performance on standardized tests, as well as an elevated SAT college readiness rate. A student reports via GreatSchools.org that minorities receive a great deal of bullying within the school. This is a perfect example of the school construct itself breeding criminal activity, and not merely culture or socioeconomic status. A spoiled rich kid deliberately ran over a school employee in his Mercedes, while his friends laughed in the back seat. This isn’t a blog about white privilege, but one cannot help but draw those parallels. Still, one only needs to look at prisons throughout the world, in every location, housing people from every walk of life, to see that crime begets crime, criminals come from anywhere, and concentrating them into as unnatural of circumstances as prisons (or schools) serves as a detriment to those there that aren’t a threat to society. They just get caught in the crossfire.

Teen arrested after hit-run leaves Thousand Oaks school employee in critical condition

Teen suspected of deliberately running over a Thousand Oaks High assistant is arrested

Teen intentionally ran over woman at Thousand Oaks High School, authorities say

California teen runs over woman with car after she confronts him about stealing at high school: officials

GreatSchools.Org – Thousand Oaks High School

Thousand Oaks, CA Real Estate – Realtor.com

Conejo Valley United School District – Thousand Oaks High School

#stayingstrongforlisa – GoFundMe Page for Lisa Solis

Middle school displays racially insensitive images, teachers

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photo courtesy of Arthur L. Mackey Jr.

Roosevelt Union Free School District in Long Island, New York is facing some intense scrutiny from parents and professionals alike after it came to light that teachers at Roosevelt Middle School included pictures of nooses in a collage, which referred to them as “back to school necklaces.” The hashtags “Yes” and “Ha-ha” were also to be seen on the collage, near the pictures.

In what is being referred to as a “personnel matter,” the district insists it is investigating, but will not comment further on the actions it will take to rectify the problem. Meanwhile, students continue to attend a school where teachers make light of the struggles their ancestors have endured. If we can put racism aside (and really, in a situation like this, how can we?), when is it ever okay to have pictures of nooses in a middle school, especially with the words “ha-ha” anywhere near them?

The truth is, the school and district may never have noticed the college or its offensive material, had it not been for an unnamed teacher bringing it up with pastor Andrew L. Mackey, Jr. of Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt. He publicized the image and issued a call to action. It’s good to see someone standing up for the children in this school.

The school serves nearly 300 students in grades 6 and 7, almost all of whom identify as minorities. The principal himself is African American. Greatschools reports that test scores in both reading and math fall well below the state average, and the school’s homepage shows student notices are published in both English and Spanish. This is obviously a low performing school whose students may ultimately choose not to attend, if they feel threatened or marginalized.

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“important message” on Roosevelt Middle School’s homepage

A video on the school’s website (linked below) shows a local news station’s recent profile of the school, and the positive sentiments expressed about the school’s future. Perhaps academically it could improve, if given a more positive atmosphere. Still, one needs to laugh, or else they might cry, at hearing the reporter stress that the school focuses also on “social and emotional learning.”

Noose photos labeled ‘back to school necklaces’ by middle school teachers outrage parents

Noose photo displayed in New York classroom draws action from school district

Classroom Collage With Nooses Labeled ‘Back to School Necklaces’ Roils NY District

Roosevelt UFSD – Roosevelt Middle School

Roosevelt Renaissance (video)- CBS News

GreatSchools.Org – Roosevelt Middle School

 

Irritant discharged at school dance, thirteen people hospitalized

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image courtesy @mdominguezfoto on Unsplash

At least a dozen people, mostly children, were hospitalized for eye irritation and breathing difficulties following the discharge of what could possibly have been pepper spray during a dance at G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School in Lehigh Acres, Florida Friday night, with at least four people removed from the school on stretchers. A large triage center was set up outside of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, where even more people were being examined.

Investigations are under way to determine the exact nature of the irritant, as well as its method of disbursement, considering the fact that when someone employs the use of pepper spray, it usually isn’t to incapacitate more than one or two people.

The dance in question was the school’s “Friendship Dance,” in which both students and parents were in attendance.

G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School serves approximately 800 children in grades K through fifth, in Lehigh Acres, Florida. Multiple investigations into its standing compared with other schools in Florida have yielded very low scores. It does, however, boast great diversity, with an estimated 61% Hispanic, 18% white, and 18% African American student population, which has increased in recent years, along with overall student enrollment. The school, housed in a renovated K-Mart building, was founded in 2010.

13 people in hospital due to irritant discharged at school dance

Irritant sends more than a dozen people taken to hospital from school dance in Lehigh Acres Melissa Montoya, Fort Myers News-Press

G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School

Lee County School District – G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School

Schooldigger.com – G. Weaver Hipps Elementary School

Middle school assault over snitching

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image courtesy @kj2018 on UnSplash

Frederick County Public School District in Frederick, Maryland, is investigating an alleged middle school assault at Urbana Middle School on Wednesday that was captured on a cell phone camera after the victim was accused of “snitching” on another student who had brought a type of electronic cigarette to class.

The video appears to show the victim being accosted somewhere outside the school, and after running away, and then apologizing, being attacked to the approval of an excited mob of students. He is also shown, and heard, begging for mercy, as the camera continues to roll. While FCPS insists it was made aware of the assault “almost immediately,” one wonders what the character education in Urbana Middle School includes, if no student is purported to have attempted to help the student who was attacked. And while the video provides impressive evidence against the attackers, the culture of “watch, don’t act,” is not only alive and well in junior high, but seems to be enabled. Of course, the spokesman for FCPS stressed that this was not the case: “Anytime an incident like this happens, school administrators and law enforcement work hard to determine the cause of the incident, but the most important thing to us is that violence of any kind is simply unacceptable, so regardless of the exact precipitating events, we want to help our students find productive and safe ways to deal with events at school.”

Drawing parallels between public school and prison is a simple task, indeed. When do the majority of prison assaults occur? When authority figures’ backs are turned. What happens during the assault? Do fellow prisoners come to the victim’s aid? Or, if they were afforded the use of a cell phone camera, might the same thing happen that occurred on the grounds of Urbana Middle School?

Disciplinary actions were taken by the school, but FCPS declined to disclose what those actions were. The assault is also being investigated by local law enforcement.

FCPS spokesman Michael Doerrer said a lot of things were up in the air, but he did affirm, “What I do know for sure is that the school is safe.” Is it?

Urbana Middle School in Ijamsville, Maryland, serves approximately 1000 students in Frederick County, and lists two of its core values as “demonstrating empathy, caring, and respect for all,” and “Creating and maintaining a safe school climate.

Assault leads to disciplinary action, investigation of Urbana Middle School students

Frederick County Public Schools – Urbana Middle Schoool