On Thursday and Friday, April 6-7, 2016, a confirmed 3 fights broke out on the West Potomac campus and at a school bus stop. The situation is under investigation by school security and the police. While some students have speculated that the incident had some relation with gang activity, the possibility of gang relation is still under investigation by administration as of April 14. No information since then has been released about gang involvement.
One fight, which was filmed on cell phone cameras by onlooking students, occurred behind the baseball field. Two assailants, who were wearing similar outfits, attacked and severely beat another student. The two students then proceeded to check his pockets for valuables. During this time, another student who witnessed the fight threw one punch at the student who was attacked, and then backed away. Additionally, at a bus stop on school bus 04’s route, another fight occurred when student was attacked by another student, who wielded a baseball bat in their direction.
A third and final fight, which was also recorded on video, took place outside one of the trailers behind the Gunston building. Social studies teacher Robert Lombardi walked out and saw the jumping take place, and speculates that the fight was a “calculated attack.” While it is hard to tell how many assailants there were in total, approximately seven to eight students attacked a single student during the incident by the trailers.
The attacked student was ripped from the trailer door and dragged down the wood stairs. He was then thrown to the ground and the group of students proceeded to severely beat him. This student was targeted by the group of assailants because they identified him as the attacker of the student at the bus 04 stop. However, this student had no relation to the bus stop incident. All students who fell victim to these attacks are okay and have returned to school as of late.
While the situation has calmed down, the safety issues presented in the student filmed videos have become incredibly apparent since the fights’ occurrence. In response to the growing concern, extra security have been issued throughout campus by administration, and this heightened security will continue until further notice.
On top of prioritizing the safety of students and staff on campus at all times, extra security had also been issued for assistant principals when they attend the meetings and hearings of involved students in not only these fights but also other related situations. In addition to heightened security on campus, an additional police officer was assigned to assist West Potomac’s current student resource officer (SRO) Patrick Berling for two weeks following the incidents. Since the fights, 11 students have been found as involved with these fights/attacks.
“The school has initiated appropriate disciplinary action in response to these serious incidents for each student,” said West Potomac administration on the status of repercussions for involved students.
According to the Fairfax County Public Schools Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) rules, seven standards of conduct were violated, five of which were B level, and two of which were C level. The B level violations include: assault on students, endangering the wellbeing of others, fighting, mob assault, weapons- possession.
The C level violations include: Drug possession and Weapon- used to endanger.
(More information can be found in the 2015-16 SR&R student handbook pages: 17-21)
Disciplinary action for B level violations laid out in the SR&R include the following: records review by regional assistant superintendent, suspension from activities and sports for up to one year, suspension for up to five days, referral to alcohol and other drug seminar, and referral to division superintendent at principal discretion.
C level disciplinary action laid out in the SR&R include: possible suspension for up to 10 days and required referral to the division superintendent.
While information about the student assailants cannot be released, Principal Alexander Case ensured that he will back any appropriate charges from the police.