It’s never easy for school administrators to deal with controversial or dangerous happenings at their schools.
The recent claim by a fourth-grade student in West Covina that a fifth-grade student had harassed her with a knife is an example of how difficult these issues can be. The young age of the students involved is striking, and it’s reasonable for school administrators, or any adult for that matter, to be concerned about the child’s capacity to fully understand the seriousness of their actions.
It’s also reasonable that the adults would be concerned about the long term ramification of their efforts to mediate the situation, such as forever stigmatizing someone as violent or a disciplinary problem.
There is a tendency by some school administrators to not be candid with parents, thinking they have managed the problem. Well their intentions may be honorable, the end-result from keeping bad behavior hidden is often less so.
In the case where a weapon of some sort is involved, secrecy cannot be tolerated.
The information always leaks out, and many parents will respond to the news with anger, believing their child had been put at risk, which to us is a normal reaction.
In the case of the West Covina students, it seems the school principal’s cursory explanation to the parents of the student who was harassed by another pint-size, knife-wielding student was inadequate. Brushing off a parent’s concerns as an “over reaction,” will only lead to more tension rather than cooperation,
We believe that teachers and school administrators should make every effort to involve parents in resolving issues, especially those involving violence.
A letter of apology is just not an adequate solution where a potentially deadly weapon is involved. The reality is that students have been seriously injured or killed by a weapon that was brought to school.
We understand that there have been efforts by school authorities to try not to suspend too many students for minor infractions, but in this case, the problem wasn’t minor.
Zero tolerance for weapons at school should continue to be the rule.
The student with the weapon should have been sent to counseling immediately after his parents was notified of his dangerous actions.
An LAUSD middle student was fatally stabbed Friday in East Los Angeles, and one can only speculate whether the alleged perpetrators of the murder had been involved in violent confrontations in the past.
Schools can’t continue to let the problems escalate.