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Batavia High School monitors backed colleague’s actions in October lunchroom incident, records show

BATAVIA – Three Batavia High School campus monitors supported the actions of a colleague who forcibly restrained a female student after she allegedly struck another student in a lunchroom incident last month, school district records show.

A male campus monitor was seen holding down the female student, who is Black, in an Oct. 21 video that circulated on social media. District 101 officials said while in the lunchroom she punched another student, and the staff member who broke up the fight needed help from three other campus monitors to subdue her and take her to the dean’s office.

The campus monitors’ reports released in response to a Shaw Local News Network Freedom of Information Act request offered additional insight into what transpired leading up to the headlock captured on video. Some of the reports also described the female student as being unruly during the incident.

“During C lunch (the female student) was having a disagreement with another student,” according to one campus monitor’s written report.

“A student on the other side of the table called (the female student) a name. (The female student) then walked over to the other side of the table had words for the student and then attacked him by throwing punches at the student.”

Another report from a campus monitor stated that he heard on the radio there was a fight in the lunchroom and went to assist.

“When I got in the lunchroom, I observed (a campus monitor) trying to control a female student, the student was totally out off (sic) control,” the campus monitor wrote. “I help(ed) get this student under control and escorted her to the Dean’s office. She made several attempts to break away from me as I was taking her to the office.”

The video showed the student being grabbed around the neck by the male employee and held in a headlock against a table while she pleaded to be released. School officials had said at the time that the video did not tell the whole story.

“We concluded our investigation into this staff member’s conduct in the BHS cafeteria on October 21, 2022,” district spokeswoman Holly Deitchman wrote in an email Nov. 18. “Our findings are the same as those of the police investigation, and the staff member has since returned to work.”

The district also responded to a request from the Illinois State Board of Education Department of Student Care, which requested video and documents related to the lunchroom incident, according to records released.

Superintendent Lisa Hichens’ written response in a Nov. 2 email to ISBE was to inform the state that “Student A became aggressive and threatening toward a different student, the staff member positioned himself in between Student A and the victim. Student A proceeded to strike the victim, making contact several times.”

The staff member responded with a physical intervention to prevent the student from “further battering the victim and further student-to-student contact was avoided,” according to the district’s statement to ISBE.

Citing student privacy laws, the district denied the Shaw Local News Network’s request for the lunchroom surveillance video, saying it could identify the student.

Batavia police denied a similar request for video, as well as a police report about the incident, citing an exemption for reports involving juveniles.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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