School officials 
failed twice in Fruita

The severe beating of a 15-year-old girl at Fruita 8-9 School last Friday is disturbing in a number of ways, but mostly because of what it says about how staff at the school respond to bullying.

Based on a 30-second video of Friday’s attack and statements of Carrie Thrall, the victim’s mother, it appears school officials failed twice in protecting her daughter, Lexi.

The first failure occurred after Lexi reported to school officials seeing the girl who would allegedly later attack her, snorting an unknown substance with a male student in a bathroom. Shortly after the report was made, Carrie Thrall said, the girl whom Lexi reported began making threats to Lexi. Thrall said those threats were reported several times to school officials, but administrators took no action.

We are aware that School District 51 officials dispute some of what Thrall has said, but so far, they have offered nothing concrete to contradict her statements.

The school’s second failure came during the attack itself. As mentioned, the video shot by a student lasts about 30 seconds. But the attack on Lexi obviously began before the video started, and it’s not clear whether it ends when the video stops. During all that time, no adult comes to Lexi’s rescue — no teacher, administrator, custodian or kitchen worker.

In fact, the only one who intercedes on Lexi’s behalf before the final seconds of the video is Lexi’s 14-year-old sister. To add insult to very real injury suffered by the Thrall family, the sister was suspended for three days for fighting.

There were lengthy discussions in The Daily Sentinel newsroom about whether to post on GJSentinel.com the video of the attack and publish a link to it in Paul Shockley’s Tuesday story about the beating. In the end, we decided it was important to post the video for two reasons: First, it shows the severity of the attack. Second, it gives viewers a sense of how long it continued without any adult intercession. Thirty seconds looks brief when it’s written. It seems much longer as you watch a youth being repeatedly pummeled.

We’re glad the Fruita Police Department is pursuing juvenile assault charges against Lexi’s attacker and District 51 is reviewing how the Fruita staff responded.

We are sensitive to the fact that we ask a lot of our schools these days. But protecting students on school grounds from other students has got to be a top priority. Learning is next to impossible if a youngster is in fear for his or her life. Reports of violent threats at schools should prompt immediate reaction in the era of Columbine and Newtown.

District 51 officials are circling the wagons now, refusing to discuss much about the incident publicly. They are essentially telling the community, “We can’t say what occurred, but trust us, we’re doing everything necessary to protect your kids.”

Carrie Thrall doesn’t believe that anymore. We suspect a lot of other parents also have their doubts.

The district owes this community a full accounting of what occurred — without names, if need be ­— and an explanation of what will be done to prevent similar incidents in the future.


COMMENTS

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I agree 110 percent. As I stated previously, where were the staff that was suppose to be in charge of cafeteria duty? Where was the staff when the boy and girl were seen in the bathroom snorting something? Again as I stated previous, the Superintendent is responsible for this. He has lost control over his district. His school staff he hired and put in place can’t even interpret what the District 51 handbook says. I think it is time for him to move on and get somebody that is a more hands on type Superintendent and train his staff the correct right and wrongs of the handbook and be more involved in each school and to put the proper staffs in place. Lets face it he hasn’t done much to improve the District and when there is a problem , he washes his hands of it, hides behind his desk and lets the School district loser lawyer handle it…. We pay his salary as an administrator and I think its about time for him to start earning his salary or he should be booted from the position… Speak up all parents of School district 51, Let ourselves be heard….

Let’s go Mr. Superintendent….. Show your face and explain why your administrators FAILED to do their job.. Your responsible for them. Don’t hide behind your desk and leave it to the district lawyer to handle your dirty work… It’s all your fault, you put these people in the position and its time for you to do something and be a man and explain why they didn’t do their jobs…. Mr. Superintendent you know who I am and just remember, I had you and your HS principal shaking in your shoes when I brought my lawyer in to question what your administrators and your teachers did to my daughter and why we were not informed as parents and til this day a teacher is still teaching at that school which should have been fired for his knowing of the situation and involvement is just beyond me. Yes you let a counselor go but that teacher was just as much involved as she was and should have been let go too. Do us all a favor and resign your position….

There are more cover ups in this district than anyone can imagine…. BELIEVE ME!!!

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