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School officials explain Wakefield Elementary partial lockdown

October 2, 2013

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – A lockdown was implemented at Wakefield Elementary School Sept. 20 after a 9-year-old male student allegedly stabbed a teacher in the eye with a stick.
According to a memo sent the same day from Principal Lynn Dougherty to students’ parents and guardians, the “partial lockdown” was implemented to “ensure the safety of an individual student.”
Dougherty said, “This procedure was used out of an abundance of caution.”
According to the South Kingstown Police Department’s report of the incident, police were called to the school at 1:36 p.m. that Friday when the school reported they were in lockdown and an ambulance was needed.
Patrolman David J. Marler was the first officer to arrive on scene, according to his narrative of the incident.
Marler reported that the student involved was “still at large” when he arrived on scene and when he attempted to determine the location of the student from staff they were “uncooperative and only wanted me to render aid to the injured teacher.”
Marler continued, “After several unsuccessful attempts at locating the suspect, rescue arrived on scene. I was then informed the student was outside, near the wings.”
According to his narrative, Marler then made contact with the student who was reportedly being restrained by several staff members.
Staff members advised Marler that the student was upset over an incident that happened at recess and was being uncooperative. Staff members attempted to contain the student during which time he allegedly stabbed a female teacher in the eye with a stick.
While he was interviewing witnesses, Marler noted that the student was still being restrained and was quiet and was not moving. He would not speak with anyone who talked to him, according to Marler’s report.
Lt. Michael Natale asked that student’s father, who was also on scene, if he could speak with his son. The student’s father knelt down to speak with him, at which time the boy reportedly spit in his father’s face.
Natale then had Marler secure the student in handcuffs and transport him to the police station. As Marler did this, the boy reportedly kicked him, nearly hitting Marler in the face.
The boy was subsequently transported to the police station and was later brought to South County Hospital for a psychological evaluation.
The incident remains under investigation according to police.
Parents of students at the school contacted The Narragansett Times with concerns with the manner in which the lockdown was implemented, alleging that students were left unattended and frightened in classrooms as teachers left the building to assist the injured teacher on the playground.
Furthermore, parents felt that Principal Dougherty’s note home about the lock down was “lame” and vague and the incident was never addressed further at school the following week.
Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow said she hasn’t received any calls from parents expressing concerns, but directed parents with questions or concerns to call Principal Lynn Dougherty.
Stringfellow said she was in the building shortly after the lockdown and the lockdown was implemented in accordance with the school district’s crisis plan, and that members of the district’s crisis team were consulted and were on-site to assist.
Maureen Cotter, chair of the South Kingstown School Committee, also said she hadn’t received any calls from concerned parents and that the school committee does not plan to address the issue, as the staff handles the briefing of students’ parents and guardians.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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