The student who allegedly threatened to kill a Fresno Unified trustee remains in class at Bullard High School, a district spokeswoman says.
“Based upon information the district has including the video, there is nothing to indicate the student should receive disciplinary action,” Fresno Unified spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said.
Idsvoog says the family of the student has called the district to complain over the incident, saying they are “extremely upset.”
Slatic, reacting to Idsvoog’s statement, told GV Wire, “She is absolutely correct, but misleading. The report does not contain statements from the adults involved, and I have not been contacted by the investigators, despite repeated requests to the superintendent to do so.”
Trustee Says He was Threatened
Security camera video released Wednesday shows the confrontation between trustee Terry Slatic and an unnamed student. The video did not record audio. The video’s release came in response to GV Wire’s public records act request made Monday afternoon.
Slatic, in a GV Wire interview on Monday, said the student engaged in verbal abuse upon himself and his aide, Michelle Asadoorian. The student then made threats to shoot and kill Slatic and Asadoorian.
That’s when Slatic, a retired U.S. Marine officer, grabbed the student’s backpack. Slatic then dropped the backpack to the ground. The student grabbed it and ran off.
School Safety Experts Back Slatic
“If the school member (felt) he was threatened with being shot and killed as the reason for taking the backpack, then I think it’s legitimate.” —USC professor and school safety expert Ron Avi Astor
Two school safety experts say, based on the video and news reports, that Slatic likely was justified in his behavior. But they also said there are questions about the incident that need answers.
“If the school member (felt) he was threatened with being shot and killed as the reason for taking the backpack, then I think it’s legitimate,” Ron Avi Astor, a professor at USC and school safety expert, said. “It would be better if he called security and got other people in. Maybe (Slatic) felt there was something imminent.”
Astor wondered why the student exhibited erratic behavior. He also wondered about Slatic’s actions after the incident.
“He just went about his business. If I’m thinking if someone has a gun and is going to kill me, I’m going to call the police,” Astor said. “It looks a little bit cavalier afterwards, but I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I’d be concerned with this kid running off.”
Slatic said that he reported the incident to the school office immediately afterward.
Ken Trump, president of Cleveland-based National School Safety and Security Services, said that Slatic had a right to defend himself and Asadoorian.
“Based on the board member’s expertise, and if he felt there was an imminent threat coming, then it may be reasonable to protect himself,” said Trump. “It depends on the board member’s threat assessment at the time.”
Trump said that the situation should be thoroughly investigated.
“The video doesn’t appear to tell the whole story. One of the questions that needs to be investigated is, was there an opportunity for (Slatic) to talk to the office instead of engaging in a disrespectful young man? It’s hard to see if there is an aggressive move (by the student),” Trump said.
Sandra Celedon, executive director of Fresno Building Healthy Communities, tweeted disapproval of Slatic’s actions.
“This is absolutely unacceptable. @fresnounified board members have no right to grab any students for any reason. This member is out of line and needs to apologize to this student for his aggressive behavior and for violating his right to feel safe in school,” she wrote.
This is absolutely unnaceptable. @fresnounified board members have no right to grab any students for any reason. This member is out of line and needs to apologize to this student for his agressive behavior and for violating his right to feel safe in schoolhttps://t.co/6wClqCQCvp
— Sandra Celedon (@sanlens) January 16, 2019
Mike Der Manouel Jr., a Fresno businessman and Slatic supporter, defended the trustee’s actions.
“His version of events is corroborated. The kid made a threat. We have to take those seriously,” Der Manouel said.
Kim Gould, president of the Bullard Parent Teacher Student Association, declined to comment.
Idsvoog said a third-party group is investigating the incident for the district, but she declined to identify the group. Slatic, Idsvoog said, has not spoken to the investigator.
The district held a special meeting Tuesday night in closed session to discuss potential litigation stemming from the incident. The board reported taking no action.
Idsvoog said Fresno police have finished their investigation into the incident. However, the Fresno County District Attorney’s office said Wednesday it has not received the report.