Education Administration Discussions
freshman at the high school where you are principal runs into the office claiming that he was assaulted by three upperclassmen in the restroom. He reports that a teacher witnessed the incident but quickly left the scene. The student says he can identify the three students who assaulted him. Respond to the questions in the discussion. How should you go about investigating the student's claim?
If it turns out there was an assault, can you or the school be held liable? Explain. What should you do about the teacher who witnessed the incident but left the scene?
Schools have a responsibility to protect the students when they are on campus or attending school-sponsored extracurricular activities. This means that schools have an obligation to maintain safe environments that are conducive to learning -- an obligation that extends to all faculty and staff at a school (Lake, 2001; "in loco parentis," 1999). The ages of students attending high school pose particular challenges to meeting this universal obligation for the provision of safe schools, and this is common knowledge. From this basis, I would take the following actions:
I would take a statement...
There is an immediate need to ensure that the student reporting the assault is being truthful -- absent any physical evidence of a physical assault, this matter rises to the top. I would immediately request that the campus security officer or staff locate each of the students implicated and hold them in separate offices, prior to meeting with each student. I would call the teacher aledged to have witnessed the assault to the office in order to discuss the matter and ascertain the need for further action. Should the teacher confirm that he or she observed the assault, the teacher will be asked for a statement to that effect -- and asked to provide the names of the students involved. The liability of the school for the occurrence of the assault becomes more probable if staff observed the assault and did not act to curtail the students' behavior and protect the student being assaulted. Following brief initial interviews, I would personally call the parents or guardians of each implicated student and request a meeting by the end of the school day or as soon after as possible. Official actions to follow -- as deemed appropriate according to the evidence provided or that emerged during interviews with the students and faculty -- include: 1) A hearing to…
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