A Valhalla High School security staffer’s actions while breaking up a student fight last week – notably, kneeling on a Black teen’s neck while detaining her – have led to an internal inquiry.
The campus supervisor’s response to the lunch scuffle at the Rancho San Diego school prompted Grossmont Union High School District officials to put him on paid leave pending results of the inquiry.
The staffer’s actions prompted shock and outrage on the part of witnesses and others who saw video footage and stills of the incident posted on social media.
In response to those images, local civil rights activist Tasha Williamson said that San Diego-area officials have not “learned from George Floyd,” whose videotaped death while pinned by the neck beneath a police officer’s knee last year prompted worldwide protests.
“This is the umpteenth Black student to be treated in a way that no child should be treated,” Williamson asserted in an online post. “No White children have been treated this way.”
If the investigation determines that the suspended staff member, whose name has been withheld, engaged in “actual misconduct” while intervening in the student fight, district officials will take “appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal,” according to a district statement. “Any time allegations of employee misconduct are brought forward, the district takes those allegations very seriously.”
Another activist, Shane Harris, issued a statement saying images from the school “appear to be concerning and inappropriate.”
He revealed that the girls involved in the incident come from foster care and that his office had been in contact with the group home director and the guardian of both girls.
“We, at their request, will step up to help them pursue justice,” he said.
In a video message released online, Superintendent Theresa Kemper acknowledged the strong negative connotations that many observers were likely to take from the images of the girl’s rough detention at the Hillsdale Road campus.
“Some students and staff are still feeling the effects of what happened on Tuesday,” Kemper said. “In light of the events that have taken place in America over the last two years, it’s completely understandable that students and members of our school community are upset.”