Sunday, June 13, 2010

Small Plane Crashes Into Arizona High School, Four People Killed

(June 2010)  A small Cessna plane crashed into Round Valley High School in Eager, a small eastern Arizona town. The Cessna plane circled the area two or three times before it suddenly nosedived into the main building at Round Valley High School at about 2 p.m. and exploded. There were no reports of injuries on the ground and the blaze was contained to the main school building. Two hours later, flames were still erupting 20 to 30 feet above the roof of the two-story school. Fortunately, classes were out for the summer so no students or school personnel were injured. The school serves about 500 students in Eager and nearby Springerville and is about 200 miles east of Phoenix.

Four witnesses tried to get into the school building, but the doors were locked. As they were leaving, the plane exploded. Fire crews from nearly a dozen small towns in the region raced to battle the flames which occurred overnight and into the next day. Officials evacuated homes in neighborhoods east and north of the school. Authorities found four bodies in the plane wreckage pending further identification and a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

Some Things To Consider:
  • Any incident is possible in regards to school preparedness. Who would ever imagine a small plane would crash into your school? Accident? Suicide or Attack? It is important to always ask yourself, "What If ...?" What would you do?
  • When wargaming for natural or man-made incidents affecting your school, it is all about preparedness / prevention, NOT PARANOIA. (Al Qaeda attacking your school is considerably less likely than a disgruntled parent coming to take their child from school during a custody battle.)
  • How many Fire departments (full time, volunteer, or combination of both) are prepared for a no-notice aviation (small or large plane or helo) crash in a residential area, let alone a school?
  • Had that plane crash occurred during a school day, what would the School Evacuation, Mass Casualty, and Student Reunification Plan be????
    • How would you conduct student and employee accountability?
  • School Facility Recovery Phase: Post Fire Cleanup, School Facility Damage (Fire, Smoke, Water, Structural) Assessment, NSTB Investigation Scene, Insurance Investigation, Possible Crime Scene Site?, Post Incident Facility Safety and Security considerations.
  • School COOP (Continuity of Operations):
    • Were there summer classes or events scheduled? 
    • What school critical functions have been affected by the plane crash?
    • What is the level of damage to these school critical functions?
    • How and When will these damages be fixed? 
    • Will this timeline conflict with the full or partial opening of the school's opening?

Offensive Game Played by California High School Students Stopped

(June 2010)  Seven seniors in Los Angeles' La Quinta High School  are facing disciplinary action (school suspension, barred from graduation, etc.) for participating in an offensive game called "Beat The Jew". The game was promoted online attracting 40 students. The participating students role played either Nazis (as victimizers) or Jews (as victims). The victims were blindfolded and dropped off at locations to find their way back to school. Victim role players were subjected to either "incineration" or "enslavement". Once discovered this offensive game was mentioned in a press release by the assistant superintendent. Even if no one was physically injured, the game was inappropriate, offensive, tasteless, and discriminatory.

  • Are parents aware of what their kids are doing online, in school, or outside of school?  
  • Students need to be aware that any game which is disrespectful to a religion, culture, or group of people is wrong and can result in getting in trouble.
  • Any game which simulates violent acts or criminal activity will lead to trouble for students and could result in charges or disciplinary acts being dispensed on all students aiding, abetting, or acting in concert with these questionable activities.     

Response To Threatening Message at Nonnewaug High School

June 2010, in Woodbury CT at Nonnewaug High School a threatening message was found in a second floor boys restroom. The threat was written as on the side of a towel dispenser. There is often graffiti written in bathrooms and on school property that is offensive, gang related, and potentially violent in tone. It is important to insure that the writings are viewed and analyzed by someone. What differentiates immature or wanna-be comments from more serious comments or threats is that they are specific as to time or date, location, target, or method of violence (bomb or shoot).  The state police conducted a school search and ensured the police presence at the school during the period the threat was supposed to take place.

Final Comment: It is vital that students, custodians, and teachers know to forward any threatening types of information to school leadership immediately. You can't assume it is meaningless or be embarrassed to say something because it could save lives. Student leadership will notify the School Resource Officer (SRO) to have law enforcement investigate and act.

NJ High School Student Prank Results In Arrests

June 2010, seven New Jersey high school (Morris Knolls High School) boys who are minors were arrested for releasing a variety of animals and rodents in the school as part of their senior prank. They brought rabbits, mice, roosters, and chickens into the school and released them into the ceiling (tiles). The police were called after custodians saw unauthorized people in the school just before midnight. The students came into the school through an open window and the majority of animals were stolen from farms.

  • Unchecked Teenage Humor and Student Pranks often = criminal charges, loss of privilege to participate in graduation, expenses (damage repair, lawyer fees, court costs, restitution, etc.), and hazardous material clean up costs.  
  • Charges:
    • Breaking and Entering, Cruelty to Animals, Bringing Animals into School
  • Clean Up Costs:
    • IF animals are not recovered, they will die in the ceilings, overheads, and ventilation air ducts. The smell and flies will require recovery of the bodies.
    • Animal and Rodent fecal matter will also create an odor and a health risk.
    • Hazardous Cleanup Companies are required sue to union rules, OSHA, and health code requirements due to the medical risk involved.
Prevention: It is important that the Senior Year Class Advisors, Housemasters, Guidance Counselors, and the Principal get the word out from the beginning of the school year and up until graduation that certain behaviours will not be tolerated and that the consequences will be severe. If laws are broken then the police will be involved. Recommend that this is mentioned to parents and at PTO meetings, in an effort to "protect the kids" from their occassional poor judgement.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Off Campus Criminal Activity & Evidence Can Come into Schools: Need for SROs

There is an unfortunate story about a 16 yr old New Milford High School sophomore who is alleged to have broken into a 25 yr old woman's home, strangled her into unconsciousness, and then sexually assaulted her on Aug 6, 2009. This young man was also connected to other crimes involving  home break-ins. Items from the break-ins were found on this student's possession by his high school School Resource Officer (SRO). This young man will be tried as an adult and will be facing 40 years of incarceration.

Comment:  A school's student population is a microcosm of the society that it comes from. Criminal activity that ocurs in the community and the related criminal evidence can spill over into your school. Violence, drugs, weapons, gangs, domestic issues, child abuse, and other criminal activities can enter and occur in your school community. There is a distinct difference between having law enforcement come to your school versus having a School Resource Officer (SRO) permanently assigned to your school. A SRO builds the habitual relationships with the students and staff, understands the school's atmospherics and environmentals, and can enable on scene crime prevention and if required intervention immediately. SROs are trained in search and seizure, probable cause, and evidentiary control and procedures. Lastly, SROs are the only legally armed individual working in the school who possesses the means to use deadly force, if required, to protect innocent lives.