A teacher is uninjured following an incident Monday in which a Ripon Middle School (RMS) student kicked that teacher and then wielded a pair of scissors, cutting the teacher’s clothing.

   That student now has been removed from the school and could face expulsion.

   No one was injured in the incident, and other RMS students are being offered counseling services if needed.

   In a letter to parents Tuesday, Superintendent Mary Whitrock praised everyone affected by the incident.

   “When I say that I am proud of our staff and students, I really mean that,” she wrote. “All of them did what they were asked to do without questions.”

   Parents learned of the situation Monday evening when a letter was sent out to families in the district.

   “Today at 2:30 p.m. there was an incident in an RMS science classroom that required all students to be cleared from the room,” according to the letter sent out by Principal Rick Bunge.

   Bunge went on to explain what occurred:

   “Two students had been arguing about space at their table. One student came up to the teacher to ask for a Band-Aid. The teacher approached the other student and began to ask questions about the situation. The student had a scissors in their hand working on a class activity. While the teacher was talking to the student about the situation, the student out of frustration moved to cut a book that was on the desk.

   “When the teacher attempted to move the book, the student grabbed the teacher’s sweater and cut it. While the teacher was taking the scissors from the student, the student kicked the teacher. As is protocol, the teacher directed the other students to move out into the project space and alert the teacher in the classroom next door.”

   That other teacher then supervised the other students, while School Resource Officer Brett Henning was called to the classroom to be with the student with the scissors.

   “The police escorted the student to the office to be questioned and the parent of the student was called,” Bunge wrote. “At the conclusion of the investigation, the student was removed from school grounds and, according to RASD policy, is subject to discipline up to and including expulsion.

   “I spoke to the students after they returned to their classroom to let them know that their teacher was safe and to answer any questions. I reassured the children that we take incidents such as this very seriously. I then contacted the parents of each of the students in the classroom during the incident.”
Whitrock, in her later email to parents, praised everyone who acted Monday.

   “I am very proud of our staff for the prompt and professional way the incident was handled at the middle school on Monday,” she wrote. “While that is an incident staff are trained to respond to, our hope is that we never have to use the training.”

   District policy offers specific steps staff should take in such a situation:

  • Notify the office of the situation,
  • Instruct the students to move away from the unruly individual(s),
  • Speak in a calm and firm voice,
  • Seek a position of safety by positioning a physical barrier between the staff member and the individual(s),
  • Visually scan for a weapon,
  • Do not physically confront the individual(s) unless someone is attacked or an attack appears imminent.

   Though the student held a potentially dangerous item — scissors — no one was injured in this instance.

   “The teacher, the student, and the classroom of students were safe although shaken by the experience,” Whitrock wrote. “... Mr. Bunge and [school counselor Todd] Arft will be checking in with students and staff over the next few days and our counseling staff is available at all buildings to provide support to students if needed.”

   While the incident appears to be unusual, it’s unclear if such assaults happen with any frequency.

   When asked how common such incidents are, Whitrock declined to answer.

Read the full story in the Feb. 1, 2018 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.