Teacher assaulted in classroom

Jacob Williams, Opinion Editor

Classmates alerted to fight via social media; student arrested

Bear Creek biology teacher Jerry Myers was assaulted by a student in his classroom on April 4, according to an e-mail sent to staff by Principal Bill Atterberry on April 7.

The assault allegedly stemmed from an earlier incident in which Myers called the student “a bitch,” a statement that was confirmed by students in the class.

Sophomore Rekyra Brown, a student of Myers’, admits that tension between the student and Myers had been steadily building for weeks preceding the incident. Brown said that on the day prior to the incident, Myers warned his student not to attend class the next day but that she arrived anyway.

“When she got there he was waiting with a referral,” Brown said. “She could have just taken it.”

Brown expressed disappointment in the actions and reactions of both Myers and the student.

“I was disappointed in both of them,” Brown said. “I honestly think that you shouldn’t argue with a teacher if he or she tells you to do something, and you shouldn’t call a student a b-word.”

Like Brown, sophomore Dajhane Daniels says she was dumbfounded.

“I was just shocked, I didn’t have anything to say,” Daniels said. “I never would have thought Mr. Myers would say anything like that because he seems so nice. I knew she was going to get mad or go off like that, but I didn’t know Mr. Myers was going to say anything. I was just really shocked.”

Both students confirmed that Myers and his attacker frequently argued in class.

While she was leaving campus, senior Thuy Ngo witnessed the student being arrested on the corner of Whistler and Thornton.

“I saw the girl when she was fighting Mr. Myers at his classroom and I went to the parking lot to drop off a friend,” Ngo said.

“When I was pulling out from the parking lot on Whistler, I saw the girl again and took a picture of her just to post it on Twitter. Right after I took the photo, a cop car pulled up and the police officer went around the car and escorted her into the backseat.”

Myers declined to comment on the incident, citing legal concerns.

The administration acted swiftly, identifying as many students from the video as possible and disciplining them “as harsh[ly] as ed code permits.”

— Principal Bill Atterberry

“Maybe I can talk more about this next year,” Myers said. “But anything I say can and will be used against me in court. That’s one of the quirks of our legal system. I can’t say any more.”

Witnesses to the attack claim that several students accompanied the student as she entered Myers’ room after school hours, where students proceeded to use their phones to film the incident.

Investigation by “The Bruin Voice” revealed that the videos are unavailable on mainstream media sources online, where the videos were supposedly uploaded. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and YouTube did not host any such video or news regarding it. There were no links available to any such video on Facebook or Twitter.

Atterberry’s e-mail to staff confirmed that those who chose to be spectators would also be subject to disciplinary action.

The administration acted swiftly, identifying as many students from the video as possible and disciplining them “as harsh[ly] as ed code permits,” Atterberry said in the e-mail. Atterberry also told staff that “safety is our primary concern” and urged teachers teachers to keep their doors locked at all times.

Campus supervisors quickly responded to the situation, as campus supervisor Don Tirapelli said that rumors of a fight had been circulating on social media. He said the administration’s response was almost immediate.

“Mr. Dosty was already in the area, near the cardio room,” Tirapelli said. “When we saw a group of students moving en masse toward the area, we thought it was going to be a regular student fight.”

Tirapelli said that supervisors were contacted and responded immediately.

The students who participated as fighters and spectators received notifications about the incident via social media websites.

Several months ago, a fight between two female students in the attendance office that occurred during the morning announcements was videotaped and posted on Facebook and Twitter, and was even carried by Best Vines. Within seconds of the fight’s end in which students could hear yelling and commotion on the school intercom before the announcements were shut off, students all over campus were rapidly exchanging texts and Twitter updates, and infuriating their teachers because whole classes were moved to gather around one student’s phone and watch the fight.

Social media continues to be an issue for Bear Creek’s administration attempting to control violence on campus.

“Students are to report fights or stay out of the way and let the staff handle it, not record it or put it on YouTube or Facebook, where it can be broadcast over the page, because there is a confidentiality issue that we have to face,” Assistant Principal Dennis To said.

“We investigate it, and then we try and alleviate that problem as best we can,” To said. “We find out who it is, and we would need to confiscate the cell phone or camera and ask them to erase the video, and if they’ve already posted it, ask them to delete it.”

To further stated that teachers are discouraged from ever engaging in physical confrontations with students.

“If a student comes at a teacher, a teacher’s response is just to get them out [of the classroom],” To said. “We’ll bring over campus security and administrators to help with the situation. They’re definitely not advised to get into a scuffle with kids.”