The Latest School Security Headlines

An 8-year-old student at an elementary school in Shiloh, Ill., was killed when an 84-year-old woman crashed her car through a wall and drove through the school cafeteria. Ryan Wesling died of head and chest injuries. Two other students were treated at an area hospital and released. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

The Aurora (Colo.) school district is mounting an aggressive effort to keep kids in school--literally. They may prohibit high school students from leaving campus during the day. (Denver Post)

Concerns about a new school opening on the site of an old chemical company in the Leander (Texas) school district brought about 80 people to a town hall meeting, where district and environmental officials fielded questions about student safety. (Austin American-Statesman)

Six East Jefferson High School students were arrested after a pair of lunchtime fights on the campus in Metairie, La. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)


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January 2007

Authorities in Carroll County, Md., are investigating the death of a 17-year-old East Baltimore youth who collapsed Tuesday evening while being restrained by staff at a privately run residential program for juvenile offenders. Isaiah Simmons III was pronounced dead at Carroll Hospital Center after paramedics found him in cardiac arrest at the Bowling Brook Preparatory School near Westminster. (Baltimore Sun)

Forensic experts still are trying to determine what caused the death of Darius Gordon, a senior at Taft High School in Chicago. A member of the school's basketball team, Gordon, 18, collapsed after a game Tuesday night. (Chicago Sun-Times)

With more than 150 school bus accidents recorded in less than three years, Jefferson Parish (La.) public school officials plan to hire two safety coordinators to help curtail wrecks and protect passengers. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Police say a 14-year-old Ludington, Mich., boy who brought a loaded revolver in his backpack last week to O.J. DeJonge Junior High School was planning to use the weapon on three teachers. (Ludington Daily News)

For the sixth time in a little more than a month, someone in the Detroit area has vandalized school bus tires, this time forcing classes to be canceled in the Flat Rock (Mich.) district. (Detroit Free Press)

The principal of Ware Shoals (S.C.) High School has been charged with obstruction of justice in connection with an investigation of the school's former cheerleading coach, who has been accused of providing students with alcohol. (Greenwood Index-Journal)

John Odgren, the 16-year-old sophomore accused of fatally stabbing a freshman at Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) Regional High School, was enrolled in a program there that closely monitors special education students for emotional and social problems and had no record of violent behavior. also: Odgren frequently boasted about his knowledge of weapons and violent crime, and once asked a teacher for acid so he could build a bomb. Earlier: A 16-year-old student has been charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of a classmate at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)

Two former Boston public schools employees are facing assault charges in Rhode Island in connection with the alleged beating of middle school students during a field trip last summer. (Boston Globe)

Oceanside (Calif.) Unified School District has began monitoring two of its campuses with more than four dozen new surveillance cameras. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Students and teachers in at least 19 Los Angeles schools returned from winter break last week to find burglars had smashed locks and windows, seized computers and sprayed graffiti on walls. School district police say there are about 400 burglaries at district campuses each year, and about half of the break-ins occur during long weekends and the winter, spring and summer vacations. (Los Angeles Times)

In many school districts, it would be impossible for a runaway 1994 school bus to inflict the mayhem that occurred last week at Pennsbury High School in Bucks County, Pa. Investigators have not determined what caused the Pennsbury bus to suddenly accelerate onto a sidewalk packed with students. There is no federal standard for determining how old is too old for school buses, some safety advocates believe there should be. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

A top official in the Miami-Dade district ordered school police to stop an investigation into why allegations of sexual misconduct involving a star high school football player went unreported for weeks. (Miami Herald)

Principals throughout Milwaukee Public Schools will be cracking down on students carrying cell phones and similar electronic devices inside schools. Superintendent William Andrekopoulos has told principals to come up with effective policies banning cell phones, with some exceptions. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)



Vandals flattened bus tires on much of the Riverview (Mich.) Community School District's fleet, but failed in their attempt to get classes canceled. Tires on seven of 10 buses were deflated and delayed the start of school by 30 minutes. (Detroit News)

Riverdale Middle School in Jefferson Parish, La., has no authority to ban students from using neighboring Rosedale Library after the dismissal bell rings, district superintendent Diane Roussel says. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on behalf of a Riverdale parent, threatening legal action if the school did not remove from its student handbook a policy that restricted students' freedom to use the library. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

An investigation into an incident last fall at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., has concluded that allegations that security officers used "excessive force" against protesting deaf students are untrue. (Washington Post)

A basketball player from DeBakey High School for Health Profession in Houston has been hospitalized after collapsing on the court. The junior had just taken a shot when he stopped and slumped to the floor. A teacher used one of the district's automated external defibrillators to help the student. (Houston Chronicle)

A 40-year-old woman has been charged with stabbing her teacher during a GED-preparation class at Malcolm X College in Chicago. (Chicago Tribune)

Colleges and universities in New Orleans are worried that the wave of violence that has swept over the city might hurt their attempts to recruit and retain top-flight students, teachers and administrators. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Seeking to ramp up school safety throughout the district, the St. Tammany Parish (La.) school system embarked on a new initiative, laying the groundwork for new partnerships between schools and law enforcement agencies. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

A former high school student in Hercules, Calif., who was beaten in a school restroom has settled his lawsuit against the West Contra Costa Unified School District. Hassan Rahgozar, then 17, suffered a crushed jaw and two black eyes during the attack May 6, 2005, at Hercules Middle/High School. The settlement amount was not disclosed. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Thirteen people were injured Wednesday in an accident in South Heidelberg Township, Pa., involving a Conrad Weiser School District bus that landed on its side in a cornfield. Twelve students-10 on the bus and the two in the minivan--and the bus driver were taken to area hospitals. (Reading Eagle)

Specialized fire crews in Helotes, Texas, have started to lay the groundwork for battling a mountain of burning mulch, and the smoke has become bad enough to cause air quality problems for at least seven area schools. The Northside Independent School District is considering whether it will have to close some schools next week because of the fire, which started in a 400-foot long pile of mulch and has been burning for more than two weeks. (San Antonio Express-News)

What began as a quarrel in a convenience store parking lot spilled onto the campus of Western High School in Las Vegas and resulted in gunfire and bloodshed. The shooting in the school parking lot sent students scattering for cover and left two freshmen injured by gunfire. The students were treated for their wounds at a hospital and released. ( Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Greenville County (S.C.) school district knew years ago that a businessman had confidential student and employee data from computer equipment he bought at district auctions, but didn't try to get it back until The Greenville News made the story public. (Greenville News)



The conviction of a Norwich, Conn., middle school substitute teacher in connection with pornography that students saw on her computer screen has stirred debate in the region. Julie Amero, 40, was convicted of four counts of risk of injury to minor after sexually graphic computer images she accessed were seen by several of her Kelly Middle School students in October 2004. (Norwich Bulletin)

A basketball coach at a Monument, Colo., charter school has been charged with sexual assault and other crimes after he allegedly hit players in the groin with his fist, basketballs and tennis balls. Gregory Lynn Burr, 28, also is alleged to have shown pornography to his Monument Academy Charter School players. He is charged with 39 criminal counts, including sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, crime of violence, obscenity and child abuse. (Denver Post)



Police and school officials in Tacoma, Wash., say they will jointly develop a response plan that would prevent the type of confusion that ensued last week after a fatal school shooting at Foss High School. Many parents were frustrated over the lack of a clear plan to reunite parents and children, miscommunication of where students could be picked up, and release of students before a suspect was captured. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Many Seattle-area districts modernizing or rebuilding older schools are keeping safety in mind. School officials say newer designs and technology can help them more effectively monitor their campuses. (Seattle Times)

Lap-shoulder seat belts are now required on all new school buses in the Beaumont (Texas) Independent School District. It is the first district in the state to mandate three-point safety restraints on school buses. (Houston Chronicle)

A teenager charged with shooting a fellow student to death at Foss High School in Tacoma, Wash., had taken guns to school before, court records say. Douglas Chanthabouly has pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder. Also: Classes resumed Thursday at Foss High School, but students said it was anything but a normal school day. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Administrators at Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County, Md., say they will enforce restrictions on certain types of clothing and other items associated with gangs, in response to a fight at the school that injured a student and a security staff employee and led police to charge four students with assault. (Washington Post)

Officials in the Farmington (Mich.) School District canceled classes Friday after vandals let out the air in the tires of more than half of the district’s school buses. It’s the third time in three weeks that a suburban Detroit school district has canceled classes because tires were flattened on school buses. (Detroit Free Press)

Vandals broke into St. Francis (Minn.) Middle School during the winter break and stole or damaged dozens of computers and projectors. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Police in Houston arrested a man who brandished a gun and threatened the driver of a school bus as she transported students from a high school basketball game. (Houston Chronicle)

A custodian at Snowshoe Elementary School in Wasilla, Alaska, has quit after using a school computer to access pornography. (Anchorage Daily News)

Junior Samnang Kok, 17, was shot to death at Foss High School in Tacoma, Wash., by a fellow student just before the morning bell on the first day back after winter break. also: Foss High School didn’t have a walk-through metal detector that might have caught the handgun used to fatally shoot the student. (Tacoma News Tribune)

The Union County (N.C.) school board has voted to ban corporal punishment in the district's schools. Use of the the punishment had stopped in 2004, but until this week it remained in student handbooks as a discipline option. (Charlotte Observer)

An arson fire that destroyed seven school buses during winter break in the Salem-Keizer (Ore.) School District didn't disrupt students' return to classes Tuesday. (Salem Statesman-Journal)

An English teacher at Clark High School in San Antonio, Texas, committed suicide days after he resigned amid allegations of sexual impropriety with a student. (San Antonio Express-News)

Every afternoon after the final bell at Maplewood Middle School in Maplewood, N.J., dozens of students pour across the street to the public library. But because of those students' rowdy behavior, the Maplewood Memorial Library will be closing on weekdays from 2:45 to 5 p.m. (New York Times)

December 2006

A school security officer in Springfield Township, Pa., recounts what happened last week when a 16-year-old boy killed himself at Springfield High School....Also: Parents, students and teachers filled the Springfield High School auditorium to discuss the suicide and what could be done to prevent further violence. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Four parents of Round Rock, Texas, students charged with misdemeanors during an immigration demonstration last spring have sued the City of Round Rock and the Round Rock school district. They contend the charges violated the teenagers' constitutional rights of assembly and free speech. (Austin American-Statesman)

The University of Massachusetts has expelled five students for their alleged role in an on-campus post-football game riot last week that caused an estimated $100,000 in damage and left parts of the Amherst campus littered with shards of glass and smoldering debris. (Boston Globe)

High schools across Massachusetts are threatening to punish athletes if they are spotted drinking alcohol or using drugs in photos or videos posted on MySpace, YouTube, or other online sites. (Boston Globe)

A former principal of Chicago charter school has admitted in federal court that he downloaded child pornography on his home computer. (Chicago Tribune)

Two bus vandalism incidents in the Detroit area this week--including one in the Waterford (Mich.) School District in which air was let out of the tires of 24 buses--have nervous school administrators re-evaluating security at their lots. (Detroit News)

A rare and expensive painkiller sometimes taken in the form of a lollipop contributed to the death of a 20-year-old Southern Methodist University student at his fraternity house earlier this month. The Dallas County medical examiner says Jacob Stiles, a sophomore from Naperville, Ill., accidentally overdosed on a toxic mixture of cocaine, alcohol and the synthetic opiate fentanyl. (Dallas Morning News)

The Gwinnett County (Ga.) school district has spent about $185,000 over the past 18 months to cover the costs of stolen laptop computers. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A veteran teacher at Lake Zurich (Ill.) High School has been charged with possessing child pornography and having sexually explicit Internet chats with an undercover police officer posing as an underage girl. (Chicago Tribune)

A former choir instructor at Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Ill., has been sentenced to serve 3 years in prison for fondling a teenage girl. (Chicago Tribune)

A former Carroll County, Md., school financial secretary has been convicted of stealing thousands of dollars from a middle school. (Baltimore Sun)

La Salle University in Philadelphia faces fines and other sanctions for violating a federal crime-reporting law in its handling of alleged sexual assaults by members of the men's basketball team in 2003 and 2004. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

A judge has ruled that an unpaid track coach at Joliet Township (Ill.) High School District 204 can have separate trials for each of eight high school girls he is charged with sexually assaulting. (Chicago Tribune)

A student in the Fort Bend (Texas) district was stabbed during an after-school fight and is in stable condition following surgery. (Houston Chronicle)

The family of a 15-year-old student who was fatally shot by police earlier this year at a Seminole County, Fla., middle school intends to sue the county sheriff's office. The boy sneaked a pellet gun into Milwee Middle School and brandished it before being shot by a SWAT officer. (Orlando Sentinel)

Classes are back on today in the West Bloomfield (Mich.) School District, where vandalism of school buses prompted officials to cancel classes for all of the district's nearly 7,000 students Monday. (Detroit Free Press)

To its list of behaviors that can get students in trouble, from loitering to sexual assault, the Waukesha (Wis.) School District is looking at a high-tech addition: cyber bullying. Administrators have suggested adding cyber bullying to the district's definition of conduct that could trigger disciplinary action, including suspension from athletics and extracurricular activities. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

New York City is considering a plan that would allow public school students to pay to check their cellphones at the schoolhouse door. (New York Times)

A middle school in Sunland, Calif., is combating a trend toward sexually suggestive dancing by offering its students an alternative: lessons in more appropriate ways to move on the dance floor. (Los Angeles Times)

A DuPage County (Ill.) jury has convicted a former Hinsdale Central High School teacher and boys varsity basketball coach of eight sex crimes involving two former students. (Chicago Tribune)

The driver of a St. Charles Parish (La.) public school bus that rolled into a ditch Friday apparently didn't set the parking brake on the bus after she pulled to the side of the highway to stop an argument between students. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Educational institutions, twice as likely to report suffering a breach as any other type of entity, are having a particularly tough time protecting personal information. (New York Times)

Several Wake County (N.C.) schools district employees are at risk for identity theft because their personal information could have been leaked from the department. (Raleigh News & Observer)

A Gurnee, Ill., school bus driver faces a misdemeanor abandonment charge after leaving a 3-year-old boy alone on a bus, where he slept until he was discovered three hours later, police say.

The parents of a 13-year-old Shorewood, Ill., boy who was kicked out of school for handling a pellet gun he found in school say they plan to take legal action because the punishment is too harsh. Ryan Morgan, an 8th grader at Troy Middle School in Plainfield, was with a friend last month when the two discovered the gun in the boys' bathroom. Ryan put the weapon in his pocket and delivered it to school officials 10 to 15 minutes later, his mother says. (Chicago Tribune)

More than 400 students were quarantined outside a Willingboro, N.J., elementary school after a teacher opened a letter containing white powder and sought treatment for burning palms. About five hours later, students were handed over to their parents after investigators determined the substance was not harmful.(Philadelphia Inquirer)

A track team practicing after school found a homemade bomb that someone tried to light on the lawn of Cinnaminson (N.J.) High School. No one was hurt by the device. The bomb--five tubes stuffed with black powder, aluminum oxide and fuse--didn't explode. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Attorneys for the Mountain Empire (Calif.) Unified School District have determined that a former teacher accused of molesting a 9-year-old girl in his class cannot be blocked from serving on the school board. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

A grand jury has indicted three leaders of a suspended University of Texas fraternity on multiple counts of hazing and serving alcohol to minors after a yearlong investigation into the death of an 18-year-old pledge. Authorities found that the pledge, Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath, had been subjected to months of physical and mental torture and that he and other pledges were expected to drink water and alcohol until becoming sick. (Austin American-Statesman)

One of five fraternity brothers at Florida A&M University charged with felony hazing have admitted that some prospective members had been hit with canes during an initiation. The students are being retried in the first test of a new state law that makes it a felony to commit hazing that results in serious bodily injury. In October, a jury was unable to agree on a verdict, and a mistrial was declared. (Orlando Sentinel)

The quick arrival of police to Springfield Township (Pa.) High School couldn't stop a suicidal student from shooting himself to death, but authorities say it helped deter the student from firing more shots and possibly injuring other students. Also: Springfield freshman Meagen Butler wonders how she will ever feel safe at school after "the nicest, kindest kid" brought a gun inside and killed himself. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

William "Barrett" Foster, 17, has been found competent to stand trial on charges that he held a teacher and another student hostage at gunpoint earlier this year at East Chapel High School in Chapel Hill, N.C. The charges include second-degree kidnapping, discharging a firearm on educational property. (Raleigh News & Observer)

The Memphis Police Department and Memphis City Schools have received a $1.2 million federal grant that will put 23 additional armed security officers in schools. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

A former teacher and her husband have been charged with aggravated sexual assault two years ago in connection with the alleged abuse two years ago of five students at a Houston elementary school. (Houston Chronicle)

Shane Halligan, a 16-year-old student in Pennsylvania distraught over his grades brought a rifle to his high school and shot himself to death in front of the school library. Related: As Shane Halligan ran through the hallways of his high school with a semiautomatic rifle, he shouted assurances to his classmates that they would not be harmed. Also: The suicide raises familiar and troubling questions about the level of security at schools. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Two students at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, Colo., have been charged with setting off a homemade incendiary device last week in the school cafeteria. Charges against the boys, ages 14 and 16, include fourth-degree arson, a felony; reckless endangerment; and interfering or impeding school staff. (Denver Post)

A superintendent for a Mount Prospect, Ill., district has apologized for a "misguided" and "unacceptable" action by an administrator at a middle school that equated speaking Spanish with bullying. Last month, 13 pupils signed a "Behavior/Bullying Contract," which stated that "Comments made in Spanish will [be] assumed to be bullying." The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund believes that an administrator at River Trails Middle School violated the civil rights of some Spanish-speaking pupils by having them sign the agreement. After learning of the contract, District 26 Superintendent Ed Tivador quickly apologized and says a new way to deal with bad behavior at school will be devised. (Chicago Tribune)

The University of California, Los Angeles, says that hackers gained access to a restricted university database, and exposed the private information of 800,000 current and former faculty, staff and students. UCLA says there is no evidence that any of the data had been misused, but the FBI is conducting an inquiry. (New York Times)...Also: A computer network attack at the University of Texas at Dallas may have exposed Social Security numbers and other personal information for 5,000 current and former students, faculty and others. (Dallas Morning News)

Gwinnett County, Ga., will donate 46 acres to Georgia Gwinnett College and designate five acres for a new station. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

A fire that started in a storage room in the auditorium at Thornridge High School in Dolton, Ill., on Tuesday morning forced the evacuation of students and an early end to the school day. Fire officials were investigating the cause, which may have been electrical, and school has been canceled for Wednesday. (Chicago Tribune)

Investigators with the Louisiana fire marshal's office and the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office have determined that last week's fire at Buras High School was arson. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Routine nightly patrol in residence halls is part of an expanded police presence on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst. More than 325 surveillance cameras track movements of students and visitors at the entrances to all 45 residence halls and in some areas of the most problematic halls. Some students argue that the campus has become a police state andwill hold a rally to call for removing police from dorms. (Boston Globe)

The DeKalb County, Ga., middle school where a student died over the weekend during a basketball game was due to get a heart-shocking device in the next few weeks. Joshua Thomas, an eighth-grader at Shamrock Middle School, was playing at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School when he suddenly collapsed. The school did not have an automated external defibrillator, a device that shocks the heart when it stops beating. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

McKinney, Texas, police are investigating the theft of at least $18,000 from the McKinney High School drill team’s booster club. (Dallas Morning News)

Milwaukee schools Superintendent William Andrekopoulos says the school system must come up with a way to deal with the heavy use of cell phones when trouble breaks out at a school, a development that has increased the severity of incidents such as a fight Monday morning at Bradley Tech High School. When trouble breaks out, students reach for the phones, and within moments, other youths are on their way to the scene, sometimes from miles away. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)...Also: Teachers at Concord (N.H.) High School are cracking down on cell phone use. Students can use them during lunchtime only, unless they have informed the office of an emergency situation. (Boston Globe)

Classes at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Mass., were canceled today after someone set a fire set near a boys locker room Monday afternoon. The fire damaged about $50,000 worth of sports equipment and caused another $200,000 in damage to the building. (Boston Globe)

Four female high school students at Moorestown (N.J.) High School have been arrested after an employee caught someone with drugs in a school restroom. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

The city of Raleigh, N.C., is installing a pedestrian crossing signal and a new left turn signal for traffic entering Millbrook Magnet Middle School. The pedestrian signal will count down the number of seconds it's still safe to cross the street. Last winter, an eighth-grade student suffered minor injuries when she hit by a car while she crossed at the intersection. (Raleigh News & Observer)

In response to multiple bomb threats this year, Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores, Mich., is forcing students to keep their purses, gym bags and backpacks in their lockers all day. Some female students--who stash things like makeup, cell phones and personal hygiene items in their purses--believe that the rule is too strict. (Detroit News)

With fatal fraternity house fires in Nebraska and Missouri last month fresh on their minds, fire officials in a handful of college communities have intensified their push for city ordinances requiring fraternity and sorority houses to install sprinkler systems. (New York Times)

The Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity has shut down its University of South Florida chapter in Tampa, citing hazing and alcohol violations that could get some of the students suspended from school. (Tampa Tribune)

A brawl last month at Capitol Heights (Md.) High School has damaged relationships between black and Hispanic students. (Washington Post)

Two New Lenox, Ill., police officers were shot and their assailant killed Thursday night after a traffic stop in the Lincoln-Way Central High School parking lot. The officers' injuries were not life-threatening. The shootings occurred about 7:45 p.m. A driver refused to pull over, but finally was curbed in the school parking lot. The man got out of his car shooting and police shot back. (Chicago Sun-Times)

A man slammed his pickup through the main entrance of Vanoss High School in Pontotoc County, Okla., on Thursday. No one was injured. Surveillance video showed the driver hitting the school before backing up about 20 yards, revving his engine and ramming into the school again. (The Oklahoman)

A 13-year-old boy accused of firing an assault rifle in his middle school in Joplin, Mo., will stand trial as an adult. A judge has certified seventh-grader Thomas White to stand trial as an adult. He is charged with first-degree assault, armed criminal action and attempted escape. The student is accused of taking an assault rifle to Joplin Memorial Middle School on Oct. 9 and pointing it at administrators, teachers and students before firing a shot into the ceiling. (Joplin Globe)

A Harvey, Ill., mother says she is considering taking legal action against Harvey Elementary School District 152 after her 4-year-old son was left alone for nearly three hours inside a parked school bus in the bitter cold. (Chicago Tribune)

A fire at an abandoned Plaquemines Parish, La., school is being investigated by parish and state officials as a possible arson. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Four students at Hays High School in Buda, Texas, have been suspended from school after sheriff's officers found bombs and bomb-making materials in several of the students' homes. Investigators say they do not believe the students intended to harm anyone or explode the devices at the school. (Austin American-Statesman)

A plan to scan the fingerprints of 2,200 Irvine, Calif., high school students to make lunch lines move faster has been scrapped after angry parents argued it would violate teens' privacy rights. A spokesman for the Irvine Unified School District says district administrators had been unaware of University High School's plan. (Los Angeles Times)


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