Students, teachers torn over Monday’s alleged assault

Students+evacuate+after+a+fire+alarm+on+Monday.+Before+the+evacuation%2C+a+student+assaulted+another+student%2C+though+the+two+incidents+were+unrelated.
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Students, teachers torn over Monday’s alleged assault

Students evacuate after a fire alarm on Monday. Before the evacuation, a student assaulted another student, though the two incidents were unrelated.

Students evacuate after a fire alarm on Monday. Before the evacuation, a student assaulted another student, though the two incidents were unrelated.

Charlie Sagner

Students evacuate after a fire alarm on Monday. Before the evacuation, a student assaulted another student, though the two incidents were unrelated.

Charlie Sagner

Charlie Sagner

Students evacuate after a fire alarm on Monday. Before the evacuation, a student assaulted another student, though the two incidents were unrelated.

By Taylor Haber, Walt Whitman High School

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Following the in-class assault that occurred Monday where one teacher and one student sustained minor injuries, many students and staff at Whitman were left confused about the incident. 

While administration was helping to contain the assault, an unrelated fire alarm went off and the school was evacuated.

Sophomore Jinan Ilias believes that rumors spread so quickly because there was a lack of detail in the communication between administration and students.

“Someone said the teacher was targeted,” he said. “Others said the teacher got hurt.  Those rumors keep on going because the administration doesn’t say ‘that’s just false.’”

Other students, like senior Yuan Qi, believed that the administration did the best job they could in a difficult situation. 

“I feel like they couldn’t have done it any other way,” Qi said. “They evacuated the building and Dr. Dodd sent out an email to the parents. I felt safe.” 

Biology teacher Daniel Prettyman praised Whitman administration for keeping the assailant under control while also helping students and staff remain calm, but he hopes the incident forces the school to realize the importance of emergency procedures. 

“Everything went as smooth as possible, but we’d be lying if we said we weren’t nervous,” Prettyman said. “This should wake us up to doing more drills and discussing these procedures to make sure that we can keep our school as safe as possible. With minimum information, we still have to have a procedure to act, but students and staff should have been more informed to reduce the panic.” 

Adversely, other teachers said they felt just as out-of-the-loop as their students.

While the evacuation of students outside the building went well, administration could have done more to keep staff and students more informed about the incident, English teacher Matthew Bruneel said.

‘We knew nothing more than the students did—in fact, probably less because there was no social media to communicate,” he said. “I would have appreciated a little more transparency about what was actually happening.” 

Administrators stand by the way they handled the situation. Principal Robert Dodd said that because the situation wasn’t life-threatening, the communication was appropriate.

“I think that at that moment, it was enough information for people to understand that there was a serious incident,” Dodd said. “If there had been, let’s say, God forbid, some sort of firearm or weapon, the communication would have been different.”

This story was originally published on The Black & White on September 19, 2019.