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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Lapwai students expelled after in-classroom attack

By Justyna Tomtas Lewiston Tribune

Students involved in an attack on another teen in a classroom at Lapwai Middle-High School will not be allowed to return to class until the end of next school year, according to officials.

The fight, which took place last week, circulated on social media platforms after a student recorded the incident.

The 50-second video begins just before two female students appear to attack another girl who is sitting at her desk. The student is pushed out of her chair by one girl, then repeatedly punched by the second girl involved, as students in the background can be heard laughing and saying “take your time” and “get her.”

About 35 seconds into the video, a man, identified as a substitute teacher by parents who contacted the Tribune, appears to step in, but punches and kicks continue to fly until the recording ends.

Superintendent David Aiken said Thursday he was not able to comment on the specifics of the incident, stating those involved were minors and citing privacy laws.

In a statement from Aiken, provided by Nez Perce Tribe spokeswoman Kayeloni Scott, Aiken addressed what he called “recent safety concerns” at the school.

“I want to emphasize our response has included explicit actions and plans to ensure safety,” the statement reads. “The students involved in violating the district Zero Violence Tolerance policy will not be returning through the end of the 2019-20 school year. I would like to thank the Lapwai community for respecting the privacy of all students involved.”

Scott said the incident is currently under investigation by Nez Perce Tribal Police. It’s unknown if charges will be filed.

“The tribe is concerned, and safety is always the top priority, especially when it comes to youth,” Scott said. “We are assured the school is taking care of it, and the situation is going to be handled in the most appropriate manner.”

In an email, Aiken said the school district’s zero-tolerance policy for violence and bullying includes a consistent approach that adheres to Idaho Code. He also stated the district works in close collaboration with various tribal agencies like the Circle of Elders and the Nez Perce Tribal Police, among others.

“Student safety is always our first priority in the Lapwai School District,” Aiken said. “We have clear and practiced procedures in each building in the event of an emergency situation.”

He also listed recent efforts aimed at increasing student safety like an expansion of surveillance systems, rekeying the buildings and annual revisions of the district’s emergency management plan.

The district is currently working to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, a program designed to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for students.

“The students are explicitly taught how to be respectful, responsible and safe in all locations on the school grounds,” Aiken said. “Our goal with PBIS and bully prevention is to create a safe learning environment to maximize learning for all students.”

Another curriculum with similar goals, called Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies, is also being implemented in the elementary school.

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