General Crime

* Update On Assault Against A Teacher Tiffany Carrico At Portola Middle School, School Accused Of Failing To Report Crimes

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May 21, 2009 EL CERRITO: UPDATE: 12 STUDENTS ARRESTED IN SEPARATE INCIDENTS

Three more Portola Middle School students were arrested today in connection with an attack on a teacher at the school Monday,El Cerrito police Sgt. Shawn Maples said.In all, three girls and two boys, all 13 and 14 years old, have been arrested on suspicion of battery on a schoolteacher, Maples said.A total of 12 high school and middle school students in El Cerrito have been arrested in the past two days for various offenses, he said.A sixth Portola student was arrested at about 4 p.m. today in an unrelated incident at a 7-Eleven store near the school. The 14-year-old boy had been with a group of fellow students when officers approached them to break up a possible fight, Maples said.The student allegedly assaulted one of the officers, causing minor cuts and scrapes, Maples said.Six El Cerrito High School students were also arrested Wednesday for fights unrelated to the alleged teacher assault, according to Maples.Police today are continuing to interview other students in connection with the Monday attack on the teacher and are trying to track down some students who might have video footage of the attack recorded on their cell phones, Maples said.
The attack happened at about 12:50 p.m. Monday. Tiffany Carrico, a music teacher who has been with the district for about five years, had been assigned to keep students out of a particular classroom, police said.When she denied access to a group of students, they allegedly threw rocks at her. As a larger group gathered, the students allegedly pushed Carrico to the ground, Maples said.A vice principal at the school witnessed the attack and came to Carrico’s aid. Carrico eventually escaped from the students and ran to her classroom, Maples said. School district spokesman Marin Trujillo said Carrico has been placed on paid administrative leave while police and the school district investigate the incident.Portola Middle School held a community meeting Tuesday night to talk to parents about safety, with officials from the Police Department and the West Contra Costa Unified School District present to answer questions, Maples said.The school district agreed Tuesday to provide a school resource officer at the campus, and the officer was introduced to parents at Tuesday’s meeting, Maples said.He said El Cerrito police have had problems in the past with the administration of Portola Middle School.”The principal and vice principal have shown a pattern of unwillingness to report criminal activity on the campus, and thought it was more appropriate to handle it with disciplinary actions at the school,” Maples said.The police chief has been meeting with school officials regularly, but the problem came to a head with Monday’s attack, Maples said.Trujillo said that the school district has schools in many cities in West County and works hard to maintain good relationships with each city’s police department. He said that the decision to report criminal activity is often complex and involves both the penal code and the education code. He also pointed out that the El Cerrito Police Department is the only police department accusing the district of failing to report crime.  “We care very deeply about the safety of our kids and our teachers and we all understand that people need to feel safe to learn,” Trujillo said.However, Pixie Hayward Schickele, president of the United Teachers of Richmond, the union representing teachers in the district, said that, unfortunately, she was not surprised by the attack.The school district has allegedly been failing to discipline students in an effort to lower its suspension rate, Schickele said. “Teachers have brought these concerns to the district administration and they’ve just been disregarded,” Schickele said. “It’s
outrageous.”Schickele said she believed discipline problems have escalated since Bruce Harter became the superintendent of the district.When asked if Carrico was seriously injured, Schickele said she thought she was all right. “I think she’s OK. I mean, as OK as you can be when you’ve been assaulted and pushed to the ground and had rocks thrown at you,”Schickele said.Last Friday, Carrico was recognized by the district as an outstanding educator, Schickele said.She has, however, also received a layoff notice issued May 15 in the most recent round of layoffs in the district. Union representatives will be meeting with administrators at the school next week to discuss safety issues.

Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reusewithout the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

May 21, 2009 EL CERRITO: TWO MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY ATTACKING TEACHER

El Cerrito police arrested two Portola Middle School students Wednesday afternoon in connection with an attack on a teacher at the school Monday, Sgt. Shawn Maples said today.A 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of battery on a schoolteacher. Both students were booked into juvenile hall in Martinez, Maples said.Several other students have been identified as having been involved in the attack and Maples said there could potentially be more arrests.The attack happened at about 12:50 p.m. Monday. Tiffany Carrico, a band teacher, had been assigned to keep students out of a particular classroom, police said.When she denied access to a group of students, they allegedly threw rocks at her. As a larger group gathered, the students allegedly pushed Carrico to the ground, Maples said.A vice principal at the school witnessed the attack and came to Carrico’s aid. Carrico eventually escaped from the students and ran to her classroom, Maples said.  School district spokesman Marin Trujillo said Carrico has been placed on paid administrative leave while police and the school district investigate the incident.Portola Middle School held a community meeting Tuesday night to talk to parents about safety, with officials from the Police Department and the West Contra Costa Unified School District present to answer questions, Maples said.The school district agreed Tuesday to provide a school resource officer at the campus, and the officer was introduced to parents at Tuesday’s meeting, Maples said.He said El Cerrito police have had problems in the past with the administration of Portola Middle School. “The principal and vice principal have shown a pattern of unwillingness to report criminal activity on the campus, and thought it was more appropriate to handle it with disciplinary actions at the school,” Maples said.The police chief has been meeting with school officials regularly, but the problem came to a head with Monday’s attack, Maples said.Portola Middle School Principal Denise Van Hook was in a meeting this morning and was not immediately available to comment.

Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse
without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

El Cerrito police are continuing to investigate an alleged assault against a teacher at Portola Middle School Monday and have identified five different students who were involved, police Sgt. Shawn Maples said today.Maples said there will “probably be some arrests that will be made” in connection with the incident, in which a group of male and female students allegedly threw rocks at the teacher and pushed her to the ground.Maples said a fight had occurred at the school earlier that day and the teacher had been assigned to keep students out of a particular classroom.When the teacher denied access to a group of students, they allegedly threw rocks at her, and as a larger group gathered, the teacher was pushed to the ground, Maples said.A vice principal at the school witnessed the incident and came to the teacher’s aid. The teacher eventually escaped from the students, Maples said. School district spokesman Marin Trujillo said the teacher has been placed on administrative leave while police and the school district investigate the incident.Portola Middle School held a community meeting Tuesday night to talk to parents about safety, with officials from the Police Department and the West Contra Costa Unified School District present to answer questions, Maples said.The school district agreed Tuesday to provide a school resource officer at the campus, and the officer was introduced to parents at Tuesday’s meeting, Maples said. He said El Cerrito police have had problems in the past with the administration of Portola Middle School. “The principal and vice principal have shown a pattern of unwillingness to report criminal activity on the campus, and thought it was more appropriate to handle it with disciplinary actions at the school,” Maples said. Trujillo said, “I am not aware of those concerns, and don’t know if the Police Department has communicated that directly to (the school district), but if they have concerns, we really would appreciate if they communicate that to us.”There have been rumors that there is cell phone video footage of the incident, according to Maples, who encouraged anyone with information to contact El Cerrito police at (510) 215-4400.

Copyright © 2009 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse
without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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