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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

To Call 911 or not Call 911?

According to The Stranger Slog, two SPS students (one Interagency and one RBHS) were attacked (in separate incidents) but police were not called.  The district spokesperson gives a somewhat tortured explanation of why the police were not called but frankly, I have to wonder if there's too much leeway given for school staff to not call police.

Both incidents occurred somewhat off campus (this appears to be in some dispute between the district and Parks).  The first occurred with a coach present and he intervened (4 people jumped a student).  The coach drove the student home and the student's mother called 911.   Then later that night, on school grounds, another student got jumped by the same 4 assailants and when he went to school the next day a teacher noticed his injuries and told him to go to the hospital.

I have to wonder if the police had been called to the school in the first incident, the second might not have happened.  If the thugs had seen police around the school (or heard about it), they might not have shown up later.  Or did the police not step up patrols that night after the first incident?

The district says:

- it didn't happen during school hours
- it didn't happen on school grounds
- they only call the police if the student is in danger (the thought being the coach chased the thugs away so no more danger)

So now you know the district's ideas about what staff will and will not do if something happens.  I don't know what leeway staff have but I know in the past the district has tried mightily to minimize calls to police and/or keep this info on the downlow. 

32 comments:

SolvayGirl said...

Considering the increase in gang-related shootings and such here in the southend (check out the Rainier Valley Post http://www.rainiervalleypost.com/ if you think I'm exaggerating), I believe the coach should have called 911 as any rational human being should, let alone a school employee. If I saw four young men attacking another I'd call 911 for sure.

The situation in the shouthend is bad—these are not just "boys being boys" and it was not a school-type bully situation. Last year, gang members entered RBHS and intimidated security while trying to find some girls that had witnessed a shooting. Does anyone wonder why RBHS is avoided by the people who have other options?

Anonymous said...

"The situation in the shouthend is bad—these are not just "boys being boys" and it was not a school-type bully situation. "

Although I can certainly see that the situation in the south end might be significant -- serious criminal activity, I also think that police calls/intervention should be based on the behavior. I've never understood why assault should be accepted as "boys being boys" in high school. I'll accept that a toddler biting another toddler in preschool is not assault, but in HS, I expect the same behavior I'd expect in my workplace. If someone "jumps me" or punches me or shoves me, I call that assault, and expect police intervention.

There's probably another exception for people involved in a game that allows physical interaction. Is the coach alleging that this occurred in the midst of a game, with players who were all in his team?

(zb)

mirmac1 said...

Ironic, the froshing post brings out the enablers on the WS Blog pooh-poohing a teacher who called 911. Then there's this story. District staff do not leave their common sense and humanity at the door, no matter how Lesley Rogers wants to spin it.

Charlie Mas said...

The coach can take enough responsibility for the student to drive him or her home, but can't take the responsibility to call the police?

Po3 said...

When in doubt call the cops. Really a no brainer; three digits 911.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand why staff hesitates to call 9-1-1 whenever a student is assaulted for any reason! Let Emergency Dispatch decide whether police response is needed, not school staff. This situation keeps happening at Aki Kurose MS and Rainier Beach HS. I don't want coaches to drive my kids home either. I won't trust these two schools with my kids!

I suspect there are many more undocumented crimes against students that the public never hears about.

-Not Every School is a "Quality School"!

anonymous said...
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anonymous said...
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Steve said...

Witnessing a crime, or something that might be a crime? Call the cops. I don't care if you're a school employee. Call the cops. If there is an SPS policy against staff calling the police (for any reason), it should be changed.

anonymous said...

A good percent of the boys (and some girls too) in the HS I went to back in the early 80s would have a criminal record if police were called and they were charged with assault every time there was a schoolyard fight. I remember fights being broken up by teachers, boys told to separate and go there own ways, or sent to the office, of in severe cases parents being called and/or suspension. I don't ever remember police involvement for a school yard fight.

Of course we didn't have gangs, and kids didn't use weapons (at least not that I was aware of) and it was before the days of Columbine type tragedies.

I guess things have changed, but still, I wonder if a minor should be charged with assault and have a criminal record for a school yard fight? And, I'm not talking about this specific incident as I don't know enough about it, I'm talking in general.

As for this incident it seems odd to me that people think the school is responsible for calling police when the incident happened off campus and outside of school hours (if I understood the story right).

NAS

Charlie Mas said...

I'm particularly troubled that the coach did not consider the loss of consciousness as a sign that the student needed a medical review.

A football coach didn't know this?

If a player lost consciousness after a hard hit on the field, the coach wouldn't think that the player needed a medical review before going back into the game? Really?

Anonymous said...

As far as drug possession at school, SPD has told schools not to call them unless students possess narcotics or if students are dealing. Other drug-related calls are a lesser priority and will not be responded to, regardless if they are on school grounds or not.

I don't mean to defend the poor response of staff, but I'd like more information about what type of agreement exists between schools and SPD re: when 911 calls will be responded to in cases of violence.

Anonymous said...

Yup, Charlie, loss of consciousness means concussion and/or concussion risk.

from WIAA Concussion Management Guidelines:

"A youth athlete who is suspected of sustaining a concussion or head injury in a practice or game shall be removed from competition at that time.

A youth athlete who has been removed from play may not return to play until the athlete is evaluated by a licensed health care provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussion and receives written clearance to return to play from that health care provider"


Oompah

SolvayGirl said...

From the article in the SLOG:

As we reported earlier today, an assistant football coach at Rainier Beach High School intervened last Tuesday when four people assaulted a student near the football field (causing the student to suffer "contusions to the head and face" and get briefly knocked unconscious), but the coach—who works for the school district—didn't call 911. Instead, according to police records, the victim went home, where his mother called 911.

But that wasn't the only assault: Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Teresa Wippel says today that the same group of four men attacked another student, apparently on school grounds, later that night. "When the student showed up for his class the next morning," Wippel explains, "his teacher noticed he had some injuries and told him to go to the hospital."


Please read the article people, and especially NAS. Note they use the words "people" and "men" to describe the assailants, NOT teens or students.
This was not a bunch of kids/students roughhousing or even in a heated fight. This was young men attacking a kid who happened to be a student at RBHS. The coach was there. Anyone who lives down here knows that the gangs are active and recruiting HS kids. This coach knew this was no schoolyard fight, but could be serious trouble.

Maybe some schools can have a more lenient approach to assault, but staff at schools in rougher neighborhoods need to be very aware of the potential seriousness of such events and call the police, IMHO. It's just common sense.

Anonymous said...

"I guess things have changed, but still, I wonder if a minor should be charged with assault and have a criminal record for a school yard fight? "

yes, by high school, I think they should. But then, I went to an all girl school. I guess the charge of assault would still depend on the individual being assaulted. But, police intervention when here's a fight, along with the consequences of such intervention. Yup, I want that in the high schools.

Yes, I think some shoving matches are going to have over-reactions; yes we need to deal with sports; yes we need to deal with children with disabilities. But, after including those concerns, I think this issue is a bit like enforcement of graffiti, litter, toll jumping. The kids need to know that they are in a world where the rule of law applies, even when they're in school.

Jet City mom said...

I would hope that staff at all Seattle schools bend over backwards to insure that they are a safe place for students.

When adults misplace common sense & downplay incidents involving students, they are contributing to the problem when it becomes known that they apparently use a different standard to consider something serious enough to call for help, than staff at another school would.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me again, zb

Maureen said...

I wonder if the coach thought he was doing the victim a favor by not ratting out the assailants. Maybe he left it to the parent to determine whether they wanted to risk retaliation by calling the police? If so, I think that is totally wrong headed. Having the authorities (school here) make the call could actually protect the victim.

On Saturday, the Seattle Times reviewed this book: Don't Shoot about how Boston police substantially decreased gang gun violence.

Police announced that gun violence would not be tolerated on any level, and that federal gun laws (no parole) would be leveled on any shooters. And while they hadn't exactly turned a blind eye to drug trafficking, they did say that if the murder rate didn't go down, they would make extraordinary efforts to shut down the drug trade. They told criminals, Kennedy writes, "the special attention was because of the shooting, and that if the shooting stopped, things would go back to the status quo."

What happened next shocked even Kennedy. When gang members realized other gangsters also had to play by these new rules — and they didn't have to save "face" by killing each other — the murder rate plummeted. It was a strategy Kennedy calls an "honorable exit." He quotes one gang member as saying, "It helps because we say to each other now, 'Don't shoot that boy because we're going to have problems with the police.' " And while that might have seemed logical in the first place, without the extra emphasis, and social-service involvement, the violence had been accepted.


Of course this incident didn't involve guns, but I wonder if there is some equivalent that Seattle could apply? I do think that young people want boundaries and want adults to enforce them. I bet many of us have used this on our own kids--tell your friends your mom is a jerk and won't let you go on that co-ed camping trip even though everyone else is allowed.

hschinske said...

A good percent of the boys (and some girls too) in the HS I went to back in the early 80s would have a criminal record if police were called and they were charged with assault every time there was a schoolyard fight.

Okay, so how did NOT calling the police work? Sounds to me as though it just meant there were more and more fights all the time. That's hardly the kind of situation I'd want to send my kids into every day.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

seems to me this wasnt a schoolyard fight, which, in IMHO is a fight between two people not 4 on 1. It appears to be Assult with intent to harm and should have warranted a call to Police!
Coach should know better, he might have known the boys who were fighting and didnt want to get them into trouble, which, only allow them to be around longer to commit the crime again. Bad judgment.
jpr

Anonymous said...

Not quite on topic, but does anyone know under what circumstances SPD directs SPS to institute 'shelter in place'? I ask because there were 6-7 shots fired on Rainier & Mead at 11:30 a.m. today, several blocks from an elementary. I was alarmed to see 12 police cars & the gang unit on the scene and checked with the school secretary who knew nothing. I should also mention that preschool students are released from this school around that time. Thanks in advance for any enlightenment.

Southend belle

dj said...

The fact that schools turn over students for prosecution for minor offenses is part of what is driving the school-to-prison pipeline and is counterproductive both for the students involved (who, once they are churned through juvenile justice, will be more likely to reoffend) and the rest of us (for that same reason). Overcriminalization and overprosecution, particularly of young people, is costly and problematic.

But I don't think four people violently assaulting a fifth to the point that that person becomes unconscious is "minor."

Anonymous said...

McClure has had incidents with the principal not calling the cops. For instance, a teacher was pushed down a flight of stairs by a student. The teacher was seriously injured and off work for days.

The cops were not called and the teacher was discouraged from filing a report.

Is the principal 1- incompetent, 2-trying to hide the problems from the parents and community, or, 3 - is it district policy to ignore or bury serious situations?

-JC.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JPR, you raise an interesting question. Did the coach know some of the attackers and was he trying to protect some of them?

SouthendBelle, if there were shots fired near a school, I would believe the police would have called the school and a lockdown would have occurred immediately. ALL the schools have practiced this and I believe this is one thing that would never be a judgment call by any principal. They all know to lockdown if there is a weapon involved.

Po3 said...

"trying to hide the problems from the parents and community."

Is my bet, given other things I have heard about this principal.

Paul said...

Yes, the principal at McClure is incompetent.

ALL such incidents are to be reported and documented by school security.

Dave said...

The District has a Security Alarm/Response unit (24 hours a day/ 7 days a week) at 252-0707. They work closely with SPD and if anyone is in doubt about reporting, should (at least) have called them.

They are prepared for rapid response and instant reporting to police/fire, etc.

Fyi

Jet City mom said...

From state website


Who is Required to Report Child Abuse and Neglect?
The Mandatory Reporter's Video (see links to the video in the box on the right side of this page) provides guidance for those who are required by state law to report child abuse or neglect.

Any person who has cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect should report such incidents.

Those people legally required to report child abuse or neglect are:

Medical practitioners
Nurses
Dentists
Social service counselors/therapists
Psychologists
Medical examiners
Pharmacists
School personnel
Child care providers
Law enforcement officers
Juvenile probation officers
Corrections employees
DSHS employees
Placement and liaison specialists
Responsible living skills program staff
HOPE center staff
State family and children's ombudsman
Any volunteer in the ombudsman's office
Adults residing with child suspected to have been severely abused,


Doesn't assault qualify as abuse?

Anonymous said...

Paul said: Yes, the principal at McClure is incompetent.

ALL such incidents are to be reported and documented by school security."

A McClure teacher complained about severe over-crowding and warned that a student would get hurt. She was told by the principal to "deal with it".

Sure enough a student was injured. Per policy, the teacher sent the student to the office where the admin clerk refused to help and sent the kid back out into the hallway.

The nurse was not on duty requiring the medics per policy to be called. But... no call was ever placed to the medics.

When the distraught mom showed up at the office (alerted by a call from the teacher NOT the principal) she was escorted out of the school by security for being "disruptive'.

Well, let's see #1 - her kid was hurt, #2- no medical treatment was provided, and #3 - the school lost the kid - all during school hours.

I'd might be a tad disruptive myself.

And Sarah Pritchett still has a job much less is still the McClure prinicipal?

-JC.

Anonymous said...

Emeraldkity: I am not saying that the coach should not have called 911, but I certainly hope that assault is not the same as abuse. If a child comes to my home and pushes my child -- that is technically assault. I would probably ask the child to go home (unless it turned out my child kicked him first, etc. etc.) -- but I would not think of calling and reporting it as abuse.

Confused

Paul said...

Hey JC

You need to pass this on to the District and keep a written copy.

Otherwise Prichett will claim she never heard of it and her minions will back her up.

Accusor is always wrong at SSD

Anonymous said...

And, JC -- make sure Noel Treat gets a copy. During much of the dysfunction and disruption last spring at Lowell, he seemed to me to be the most thoughtful, responsive head at the District.

confused