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.

Community Reaction

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.

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.

Investigation Ongoing

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.

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5 Responses

  1. Nick

    In today’s atmosphere any threating words or action needs to be addressed by whomever is being threatened . Safety is most important. In this case there was a witness to collaborate what student said. Video shows student was the aggressor

    Reply
  2. Richard Moore

    “His version of events is corroborated. The kid made a threat. We have to take those seriously,” Der Manouel said.”

    Patently untrue. Slatic stated the child reached for his backpack (suggesting the child was reaching for a weapon) , when actually the child put their hands in their pockets and walked away, hardly a threatening gesture. Slatic lied about this to create a self-defense argument to justify assault. And clearly, by not even checking the backpack and letting the child have it back and leave, Slatic was not thinking any weapon was present at the time.

    Extremely worrisome that Der Manouel is happy to use a child as a proxy for Slatic’s actions.

    Reply
  3. Jim Doyle

    Just what we need, a grown man, trained in hand-to-hand combat, and maybe even “silent kill” techniques who can’t respond to a verbal assault without having to put hands on a kid?

    Clearly Mr. Slatic has no concept of the job he was elected to do, not unlike his CINC.

    Reply
  4. Em

    As a parent of a FUSD child who gets bullied at school, I applaud Slatic’s actions. I am tired of bullies being coddled at FUSD and their victims treated harshly. When my child was repeatedly bullied and assaulted in jr high, it took me threatening to call pd if it occured again for admin to act. Then admin tried to turn it on my child who had been assaulted while others watched. I had to threaten legal action. FUSD needs to stop protecting bullies and let them know bullying, threats, harassment, etc will not be tolerated!After seeing how the dist is protecting the bully, I will be looking at a new school district for my children who are taught right from wrong.

    Reply
  5. Mark Borba

    So, let me understand. A (punk) student makes abusive remarks to two adults on campus, and it is OK to ignore him? And, if the adults elect to address the disrespect, that’s wrong? Further, if the kid threatens bodily harm and has a backpack that could contain a weapon, I’d ask law enforcement to weigh in here as to what they would do on a traffic stop, if the individual is disrespectful and threatens to “kill you”…and then reaches for a backpack? Are the adults supposed to just walk away?

    Come on, folks. Discipline in society/on our campuses is falling apart, if that is the answer. But, by the comments made, there’s no mystery why too many juveniles act as they do…and expect to get away with it. IT ALL STARTS AT HOME…which you’ve demonstrated!

    I applaud Mr. Slatic. If there were more adults who demanded respect and common courtesy both on campus and in society in general, young people would learn that in “the real world”, their outrageous behavior will not be tolerated. And, the discipline metered out on the streets would be quite different than on this video.

    Thanks, Mr. Der Manouel…for your support of this marine rightfully taking action. God forbid if he had not, and a weapon been produced/used. What would these offended parents be saying? Their criticisms would undoubtedly flood the airwaves with righteous indignation, blaming the adults…for not preventing the assault.

    I only have one question: Can you imagine what teachers have to put up with inside the classroom, when this type of behavior goes unchecked? And we wonder why test scores are so low? TRULY SAD!

    Reply

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