In September of 2015, a public school in Irving, Texas called the local police about a high school student perceived to be dangerous. Shortly thereafter, the student was arrested after authority figures mistook a clock the boy had engineered and brought to class for a possible bomb. Close to Irving, however, administrators failed to prevent an actual violent outburst just two months later at another metroplex school: a student at Skyline High School in Dallas erupted in anger, slapped a teacher in the face and then grappled with her on top of a desk, injuring her.
The two situations involve different actors and suburban school settings, but together they raise important questions regarding the prevention of school violence in Texas: What works, and what doesn’t? How and why did school administrators fail, in each instance, in particular ways – to prevent violence in the latter case, and misidentify a student as a threat in the former case? Is it even accurate to say they “missed” something in both cases, or were they acting based on entirely reasonable protocols? Aren’t some unfortunate outcomes unavoidable?
This white paper attempts to partially answer those, and related, questions.