Carvalho faults school safety worker who allegedly did not try to stop fight | #schoolsaftey

The Los Angeles school district has removed a campus-safety contractor from Washington Preparatory High School after an adult — who apparently worked for the contractor — refused to intervene before a fight that ended with the death of a student, schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho said Friday.

The fight began after an individual, believed to be a school safety worker, was approached by worried students. In a cellphone video of the April 15 incident, which happened a few blocks from campus, an adult can be heard saying, off camera: “Let them … fight. If they want to fight, let the … police [inaudible]. … I’m not breaking up s—. I don’t give a f—.”

The allegation — by students and by Nery Paiz, the head of the school administrators union — is that this individual was wearing the yellow vest or jacket that identifies someone as part of “safe passages” — a program to keep students safe on the way to and from school.

Less than 10 seconds after the fight began, three shots rang out and Elijah McGinnis III, 15, collapsed. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

“If this individual made those comments, that is totally inconsistent with any policy or best practice that we would approve or consent to,” Carvalho said in an appearance on the KTLA-TV Channel 5 morning show.

Carvalho then strongly suggested, based on a district probe, that he had reached the same conclusion as others: The person on the video was a safe-passages worker: “I can also say that, on the basis of this investigation, that private sector entity is no longer contracted with the school system.”

The superintendent’s comments were the most significant disclosures to date from the school system in the wake of the shooting.

For 10 days, Los Angeles Unified School District officials referred all questions to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department — which is investigating the shooting. The district continues to refuse to release the name of the company that provided the safe-passages service.

Although Carvalho visited the campus after the fatal shooting, he had not — until Friday — made a public statement.

The incident at Washington Prep raises serious questions about a ramped-up safe-passages effort, including about the level of training and screening for participants and the extent to which they are willing and able to coordinate with police when a situation begins to get out of hand. So far, district officials have provided no specific answers to such questions.

In his comments, Carvalho spoke to a common criticism making the rounds: that the district was avoiding responsibility for what happened. Notably, a message to staff and parents from Washington Prep Principal Tony Booker defined the incident simply as something that occurred “off-campus after school hours.”

Such messages are typically written or approved by the central district office, sometimes after a review by attorneys.

Carvalho, at least broadly speaking, assumed a greater degree of responsibility.

“Let’s be clear about one thing,” he told the TV anchors. “Number one, any type of violence that victimizes a child, whether it is in school or anywhere in our community is something that we cannot ignore. And there are too many such incidents in our community.”

But Carvalho also put some distance between the event and the culpability of the nation’s second-largest school system.

“Safe passage entities — these are not employees of the school system,” Carvalho said. “They are contracted entities to provide some degree of supervision, usually in areas where it is known for these incidents to occur.”

School police — who are district employees — have temporarily increased patrols outside the school. And no follow-up violence appears to have occurred.

But the distinction between district employees and district contractors was not necessarily meaningful to students recently interviewed outside of the school.

Two girls, who were walking down the block toward the corner where the shooting occurred, said that having more security did not make them feel more safe “because there was security over there when it happened, the guys in the yellow shirts,” said one.

They, too, had seen cellphone video of the incident. One witness said that more than a dozen students appeared to be filming what they thought would be a fist fight or maybe a beating. They did not know that the teen who was jumped by at least five boys had a gun in his pocket.

The many videos captured many angles. The two girls walking down the block described what the person in the yellow jacket was doing in at least one of the videos.

“In the video, it showed he was, like, in the background,” she said. “And he was just watching.”

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