A school resource officer at Woodland Hills High School allegedly punched a student in the face, knocking out one of his teeth. The student, 14-year-old Que'Chawn Wade, was taken to the hospital, where doctors sewed his tooth back into place.
That altercation, from 2015, wasn't captured on video. But the Pittsburgh-area school has produced video footage of other troubling incidents other the years, including one in which the same school resource officer, Steve Shaulis, grabs a student, places him in a chokehold, and slams him into the ground for seemingly no reason. Shaulis then tasers the student as principal Kevin Murray holds him down.
The student was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Wade was charged with resisting arrest, as well as aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. Federal authorities are investigating four incidents in total, according to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"They make you flinch when you see what they did to that young man," said Tim O'Brien, the attorney representing the fourth student. His client is a 15-year-old girl who alleges similar altercations and "fabricated" criminal charges in two incidents at the school in 2015 and late 2016.
The principal was investigated by the school district, cleared of wrongdoing, and reinstated. He was even made head football coach.
Officer Shaulis is still on duty, but no longer stationed in the school.
This is the trouble with assigning cops to patrol schools. Even if the kids were engaged in wrongdoing, there's simply no way that manhandling them, and then charging them with serious crimes, is the best strategy for improving their behavior. Can you imagine being charged with "making terroristic threats" as a 14-year-old? Life is going to be very, very difficult for Wade, moving forward.
The kids most likely to get in trouble at school have other problems: a bad family life, poverty, personal issues, etc. It's important to keep schools safe. But it's also important for schools to do their actual jobs—to educate and socialize troubled youngsters. Arresting every kid who talks back to an authority figure and packing him off to jail isn't an effective way of dealing with the problem. This strategy dramatically increases the likelihood of a troubled teenager becoming a hardened criminal, which is just one of the reasons Tyler Koteskey and I called for de-militarization of school discipline in the March 2017 issue of Reason.