Both Sides Speak Out about December 7th Scissor Incident at Jenifer Jr. High
LEWISTON, ID —
This was the scene during Monday night’s Lewiston School Board meeting, as a boy who says two students held him down and attacked him with scissors at Jenifer Junior High, describes the incident to board members. Tonight, you’re about to hear from all parties involved.
That boy’s mother pulled him and his sister from school believing it’s not a safe environment. The school’s principal says they did take measure to keep the boy out of harm’s way, and this was an isolated incident.
KLEW News Reporter Shannon Moudy joins us in studio and has more from both sides.
The incident happened in early December. Since then, Sharon Barber says her children are still being affected. Her claim: Jenifer Junior High School, and Lewiston School District staff, failed to communicate and keep her children safe.
Principal JoAnne Greear tells me that’s not true.
On December 7th 2016, Lewiston Police arrested a student accused of attacking a boy with a broken pair of scissors.
The victim asked to remain anonymous but speaks out because he wants his story heard.
"Well I just went to lunch that day and two boys came and grabbed me and held me against the wall while the other one tried to stab me with a broken scissor’s,” said victim.
The attack happened at a noon lunch period. He says no one jumped in to help him, but he managed to kick the pair of scissors away and broke free. The boys said he tried to tell a monitor, but nothing was done so he went to his next class and told a teacher. She alerted the vice-principal who in turn called the student resource officer to investigate.
Lewiston Police tell KLEW News all of the boys were immediately interviewed. After the victim finished talking with the SRO, he called his mom.
"I got a phone call at 3:06 in the afternoon and he said, 'Mom has the school called you yet?' and I said, 'No, what for,” said Sharon Barber
Sharon Barber says that’s the first time she ever heard of the alleged attack. So she called the vice-principal, who apologized for not calling first but explained he’d been busy dealing with the incident.
Principal JoAnne Greear explains.
"We were following and trying to figure out the sequence of events and how it happened," said Greear. "And with the victim we don't always necessarily call, we're just trying to get their side of the story so we can go to the next level."
Greear says she didn’t sit in on the police interviews. She stresses this was an isolated incident.
"We take safety seriously and we have phenomenal kids and phenomenal staff,” said Greear.
But it’s the fact that Barber wasn’t notified of the police interview before it happened is why she’s so upset.
“So I looked into the codes…. when law enforcement authorities want to interview a student, the law enforcement authority will fully and completely explain the situation to the principal or designee, which in this case is Mr. Aldus, and the principal or designee shall contact the parents/guardians of the student to be interviewed and advise them of the circumstances which, they did not do,” said Barber.
This code also states that a parent will be contacted, and no child will be interviewed without parental consent. But the other parents were notified correct?
"The parents of the people that were going to be disciplined, yes, were notified so that they understood what was happening to their child,” said Greear.
"I come back to that one every time. That I...that a parent has to be present for them to even have an interview,” said Barber. “It's crazy."
Principal Greear stands by her staff. So was any school policy violated by staff in handling this incident?
"I don't believe so,” said Greear.
But Sharon Barber does, She’s since contacted Governor Butch Otter’s Office, and the Idaho State Board of Education. She even spoke with Director of Student Engagement Matt McCarter, who had a message for her.
"I'm a guy in Boise who works for the system...but there's strength in numbers,” said Barber. “And if you have more parents that are willing to stand behind you, then you can be heard. You need to go to a board meeting."
And that’s what she’s done.
"And I'm going to fight, and fight, and fight, until I see justice,” said Barber.
She’s been to every school board meeting since, speaking out, trying to get her voice heard. Because even though the incident happened over two months ago now and some may believe the issue is resolved, to her and her family, it’s far from over.
Principal Greear told me cameras were installed over Christmas break as part of a long-term plan in place before this incident. Though no cameras were installed outside, she says that is part of the plan. They’ve also contracted with Lewiston Police to have a school resource officer at Jenifer two days a week.
We also spoke with Lewiston Police about the incident, and procedures. The School Resource Officer, Rob Massey, investigated. Lieutenant Jeff Klone says he followed procedure.
"SRO Massey acted just as he should have,” said Lt. Klone. “He spoke to the victim, contacted the suspect, contacted that person's parents because that's where he's required to."
Lieutenant Klone says their procedure doesn’t require them to notify a victim’s parents before an interview. He is required to have a parent present if the juvenile is suspected of a crime or needs to be mirandized. He says Officer Massey acted just as he should have to ensure school safety and act in a timely manner.
We’ve put in a public records request for a copy of the police report but the Nez Perce County Prosecutors Office denied it, saying releasing the report would interfere with enforcement proceedings, invade privacy, and deny a right to a fair trial.