Author Archives: Sean

Was Chardon High School Shooting a Result of Bullying?

By now we have all heard of the tragedy at Chardon High School where a student went into the school cafeteria and began firing a handgun at his fellow students? What causes a student to kill fellow students? This question has been asked of school shooters since before Columbine.  Could this shooting be a result of the shooter being bullied? As the investigation continues I am sure we will know for sure but preliminary statements from students at the school believe the shooting was in response to being bullied.

Statements made by some students who witnessed the shooting said it was unclear whether the gunman had specific targets in mind when he began shooting but others told the AP that he believed the gunman was looking for certain students. He said he saw one student dive under a cafeteria table to unsuccessfully hide. The shooter has been described as an outcast who had apparently been bullied by others. Officials would not discuss the motive.

Is bullying being taken seriously by school officials? Is enough being done to prepare our schools, faculty, and students to effectively deal with the issues of bullying? A recent national survey by the School Safety Advocacy Council of almost 1000 school officials and law enforcement officials might surprise you. To view the survey visit or click on this link For more information on bullying or training please contact Sean Burke, President SSAC at .


The School Safety Advocacy Council (SSAC) recently announced it will take a smaller version of its popular National Conference on Bullying to cities across the nation.  The first stops on the REGIONAL BULLYING SYMPOSIUM TOUR were recently announced at a press conference last week.  The Regional Bullying Symposiums will provide a comprehensive 2-day training opportunity in the cities of Cincinnati, Ohio, Boston, Ma and Dallas, Texas through the months of March and April, 2012.  “We are looking at two (2) additional sites in California and the Pacific Northwest as well”, stated Curtis Lavarello, Executive Director of the Advocacy Council.

“This training is a must for School Counselors, School Administrators and School Based Law Enforcement Officers”, continued Lavarello.  The School Safety Advocacy Council Training has become recognized as the nation’s leader in school safety and bullying related training for school faculty and SROs.

For additional information on registering for the Regional Bullying Symposium or the National School Safety Conference (July 23-27, 2012 at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, FL), go to


Teen suing school district over bullying


A middle school student is suing the Volusia County School District. Dondre Jones, 13, says he was bullied at three different Volusia County schools for more than two years, and that the school district didn’t do enough to protect him.

On Monday, Jones’ attorneys announced the filing of a lawsuit accusing the school district of negligence.

His attorneys said the first time Jones was bullied, it happened at Holly Hill Middle School in 2010. They said students attacked him, pulled his pants down and took pictures of him threatening to post them online.

“I was yelling, ‘Please stop’ and ‘Leave me alone’ as loud as I could,” Jones said.

The two students were suspended and charged with battery for attacking Jones.

The lawsuit names a teacher, who resigned after shrugging the incident off as boys just playing around.

Jones moved to Campbell Middle School, where he was bullied again, by a child who attacked another student earlier in the same day. Jones’ attorneys and his mother said the school district should have done more to protect him after the first incident, that nothing was done to make sure Jones would be safe.

At a Monday morning press conference Jones himself had something to say to his bullies.

“I want the boys to know that did this to me, although you hurt me and humiliated me; I am still standing,” Jones said.

Since the bullying incidents Jones has been homeschooled. His mother says he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, he takes medication, and receives therapy.

His attorneys said they’re not sure of damages, but his medical costs exceed $50,000 dollars.

The school district is closed for the holidays, but Nancy Wait of the school board said the district cannot comment on the pending lawsuit.

SSAC Takes part in National Discussion

I’m honored to be in our Nation’s Capitol today for a very important discussion centering on the role of law enforcement in schools across the country.  Other agencies involved in this discussion are the United States Dept of Justice, Education and Homeland Security and many more…..  As I have posted before, there are those that are critical of the SRO concept and as such have published skewed reports, however the School Safety Advocacy Council will continue to support such programs and quality training that is a MUST.

Virginia Tech in Lockdown-1 Police Officer & 1 Civilian Killed by Gunman

In another tragic incident, Virginia Tech University, the site of the country’s worst massacre, is on lockdown after two people, including a police officer, were shot and killed on the campus.

The school said the suspect is at large and students are being told, “Stay indoors. Secure in place” and the school’s website said: “There is an active campus alert in Blacksburg. Everyone should seek shelter or stay where you are. Blacksburg Transit service is suspended until the alert is lifted.”

Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said a campus police officer stopped a vehicle shortly after noon today in the school’s Coliseum parking lot and that during that stop the police officer was shot and killed. The suspect then fled on foot to a parking lot where a civilian was found dead. At this time the campus is in lockdown and there is an extensive search for the gunman. The school is saying that the suspect is a while male wearing a gray sweatpants, a gray hat with a neon green brim, a maroon hoodie and a backpack, according to the Associated Press.

The Virginia Tech Campus was the site of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States in 2007 when Seung-Hui Cho killed 33 students, faculty members and himself during a shooting rampage on the campus. Cho was a senior in English at the school. After that tragic shooting the university instituted tighter security and emergency management proceedures. On Wednesday, Virginia Tech was in court to attempt to block $55,000 in fines connected to the 2007 shooting. The Education Department claims that the school violated the law by waiting over two hours before notifying students via email that a students had been shot. Virgina Tech has argued that it acted appropriately and should not be held to todays standards for an incident that happened in 2007.

The recent tragic incident will be a true test of the improved safety proceedures at Virginia Tech and should serve as a reminder to all educational ins


Also Read

High School Hazing/Bulling Incident Investigated by Grand Jury

It is time that school districts take preventative actions to educate its faculty and students on the repercussions of bullying and hazing. This incident is a severe case that has thrown a whole town into turmoil and potentially ruined careers and educational futures. As I have stated numerous times prior to this posting, school districts must do more to protect students from bullying and their faculty from potential legal and civil liabilities. The answer is simple-TRAIN YOUR STAFF AND STUDENTS. This is just another case of districts putting their checkbooks before the well being of the students and faculty.


The Bristol County District Attorney’s office has convened a grand jury to investigate the alleged hazing of Andover High School basketball players who attended a summer camp at Stonehill College in Easton, sources confirmed.

School employees, including David Fazio, Andover High basketball coach and a physical education teacher, have been issued subpoenas to testify so far, the sources said yesterday.

Fazio was placed on paid administrative leave Friday while police investigate allegations that two students were forced by upperclassmen to play a humiliating sex game while attending the summer camp in July.

Meanwhile, an Andover High basketball player accused of leading the hazing of the two younger students was suspended for 10 days and his lawyer now expects school officials to expel him.

Attorney Arthur Broadhurst said the student was suspended from both academics and the basketball team for 10 days, a decision he will not fight.

The district intends to expel Broadhurst’s client and a fellow ringleader, as well as suspend five other Andover High students who attended Hoop Mountain basketball camp in July.

At Hoop Mountain, held on the Stonehill College campus, two underclassmen were allegedly pressured into playing a sex game, “wet biscuit,” where the loser had to eat a semen-covered cookie.

Broadhurst would not say if his client will fight the expulsion, citing ongoing criminal investigations by the Easton Police Department and Bristol County District Attorney’s office.

Attorneys for other students involved could not be reached for comment yesterday.

On Friday, during disciplinary hearings at Andover High, students pleaded their cases with school officials for their roles in the hazing scandal. School officials would not disclose the outcome of the hearings for the seven students involved. Attempts to reach Superintendent Marinel McGrath for comment were unsuccessful yesterday.

Broadhurt’s client is also the administrator of a secret Facebook page called “Andover Basketball,” where he and others complained about the police investigation, planned a meeting and vowed to “fix” the situation.

The Eagle-Tribune anonymously received a screenshot of the secret Facebook page last week, which Easton police then asked for.

At Andover High, students facing expulsion or suspension are entitled to hearings where they can question witnesses and present evidence in their defense, according to the schools’ disciplinary policy. The can also appeal the disciplinary action of the superintendent.

If any of the students are criminally charged with hazing, they could face up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Anyone who witnesses hazing but does not report it faces a $1,000 fine if convicted under state law.

As a result of the hazing, Stonehill College terminated its agreement with Hoop Mountain, which will no longer be allowed on campus.

Fazio still holds the title of head coach of the basketball team, Chris Bergeron, Andover High athletic director, said Monday night.

School Safety Officer charged with punching student

The article below is a prime example of why school districts must train their non-sworn security personnel. In the current economic times, school districts are cutting what they consider “non-essential” programs such as safety personnel and programs as well as  staff safety training. All districts must remember that any cuts in safety will only result in harm to students and staff or payment of lawsuit settlements for failure to protect them.


LAWRENCE — School safety officer Richard Rivera is facing felony assault charges for allegedly punching a teenager who went to Lawrence High School last month to inquire about GED testing.

Rivera, 42, of 98 Andover St., Lawrence, is expected to be arraigned on assault and battery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charges Wednesday in Lawrence District Court.

Rivera is also a member of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, appointed by Mayor William Lantigua.

According to police reports, Rivera, while working as a school safety officer, punched an 18-year-old man in the face during an altercation at the Higher Learning Center, an annex of Lawrence High School, at 183 Haverhill St.

Rivera is now on unpaid leave from his job. A school department hearing is expected to be held this week, and depending on the outcome, Rivera could be stripped of his pay, according to Acting Superintendent Mary Lou Bergeron.

According to police reports, Rivera punched John Hartley III, 18, of 304 Howard St., Nov. 17 after he went to the Higher Learning Center to inquire about the school’s GED program. Hartley left the school with a friend and then they both returned a short time later. When they came back, the altercation with Rivera occurred.

Rivera first said Hartley did not assault him before he punched him. Later, when interviewed by police Officer Jonathan Armano, a school resource officer, Rivera said Hartley swore at him and “took a swing” at him when he approached him on school grounds.

But Hartley told police Rivera “punched him in the face and began to struggle with him for no reason.” Rivera also yelled and swore at him for trespassing, said Hartley, adding he felt “dazed” and “knocked out” after the assault.

Other school workers also saw Rivera punch Hartley, according to the reports.

Hartley was treated at Lawrence General Hospital for pain and a deep bruise to his jaw.

Rivera also complained to a co-worker, who called 911 and notified police of the assault. “You shouldn’t have called the cops, now I’m in a lot of trouble,” Rivera told the co-worker, according to Armano’s report.

“I wouldn’t want to make him mad. He’s a big guy,” the worker told Armano.

Rivera was also involved in a police-related incident at the high school in March 2010. He was one of three school safety officers charged with misleading police during an underage drinking investigation.

He, Jesus Hernandez, 33, and Johnny Paredes, 46, were accused of lying to police about whether surveillance videos captured images of students drinking rum in the Lawrence High School cafeteria. All three were found not guilty by a District Court judge in August 2010.

SRO’s and Principals must be aware of claims of “Schools to Prison Pipeline”

Please read the following article and be aware that SRO’s and school principals are under attack from certain groups using the guise of “School to Prison Pipeline”.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 13-year-old was handcuffed and hauled off to a juvenile detention for burping in class, according to a lawsuit filed against an Albuquerque school principal, a teacher and school police officer.

The boy was transported without his parents being notified in May after he “burped audibly” in PE class and his teacher called a school resource officer to complain he was disrupting her class. The lawsuit also details a separate Nov. 8 incident when the same student was forced to strip down to his underwear while five adults watched as he was accused of selling pot to another student; the boy was never charged.

The suit was one of two filed Wednesday by civil rights attorney Shannon Kennedy, who says she has been fighting the district and police for years over the use of force with problem children.  She says a review of school and Bernalillo County records shows more than 200 school kids have been handcuffed and arrested in the last three years for non-violent misdemeanors.

In the second lawsuit filed Wednesday, the parents of a 7-year-old boy with autism accuse a school officer of unlawful arrest for handcuffing the boy to a chair after he became agitated in class. New Mexico law prohibits officers and school officials from restraining children under 11.

The suits come one year after the same attorney settled a class action lawsuit against the district that was prompted by the arrest of a girl who Kennedy said “didn’t want to sit by the stinky boy in class.” And Kennedy says she has a number of other cases she is preparing over treatment of students in Albuquerque by school officials, school police, city police and sheriff’s officers.

“I am trying to get all the stake holders in a room to get people properly trained to prevent this from happening,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the problem lies with the schools more than with the law enforcement agencies.

“It lands in the lap of the principal. There are good schools and bad schools. The principals … who are handling their schools properly don’t need to have children arrested. It’s ridiculous.”

A spokesman for Albuquerque Public Schools did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment on Thursday. A police spokeswoman said the department does not comment on litigation.

One school board member, Lorenzo Garcia, said he had not seen and could not comment on the lawsuits, but he did say he was concerned about what appeared to be schools getting stuck on a “zero tolerance policy.”

“Really, in my opinion, this really increases the whole idea of the schools-to-prison pipeline,” he said.