BCPS caught in yet another attempt to cover up facts regarding fight at Perry Hall High School
Eyewitness testimony differs with BCPS spin and police accounts and social media plays a key role
Some of you may remember this article involving Dundalk Senior High School, when The Baltimore Post reported about the principal being removed from her position. After the story broke, the Post received phone call from Mychael Dickerson stating that our article was inaccurate and the principal would be returning to her job.
Here was the response from Mr. Dickerson concerning our article. The Post stood by our story and, eventually, the principal resigned from her position.
Now again we are faced with a similar situation in which BCPS seems to be following the same path of former superintendent Doctor Dallas Dance.
We will get back to that issue in a moment, but first the facts as described by eyewitness accounts about what took place at the dance on Saturday night, October 7, at Perry Hall High School.
Here is a summary of what took place via the social media network Facebook. We will focus on two particular comments pertaining to the incident from two officials and their replies on Facebook.
Upon reading their comments as to how the events unfolded, the Post will then describe the interviews with eyewitnesses who were at the dance.
Here is the BCPS version of events through an email sent by the principal of Perry Hall High School:
October 9, 2017
Dear Parents and Families of Perry Hall High School:
I am communicating with our families today to both share information and provide clarification concerning an incident that occurred Saturday evening during our Homecoming dance. About thirty minutes before the end of the event, a student who had lost a cellphone at the event asked someone else to trigger the “Find my iPhone” feature. When the lost phone began to flash, students in the vicinity mistook the flash for a weapon and began to run, causing other students to also run toward the gymnasium exits. Administrators and Baltimore County police monitoring the event quickly determined what had happened and that there was no weapon. However, as a precaution, school personnel reached out to the police and an additional six police cars arrived at the school.
We understand that with the current heightened sensitivity as a result of recent events in the news, this unfortunate situation created some panic among our students which is both understandable and unfortunate. We determined that at no time were any students in any danger, and most students who left as a result of the flashing phone returned and enjoyed the remainder of the dance.
We take this incident very seriously, and believe actions taken on the part of administrators and police were appropriate. Any updates on this situation will be provided by school administration and Baltimore County Police to the Perry Hall High PTSA Executive Board at their regularly scheduled meeting tomorrow evening, October 10, 2017.
We all have a role to play in ensuring that our school remains a safe and secure learning environment for our children. Thank you for your continued support of your student and of Perry Hall High School.
It should be noted that this post is no longer on Councilman Marks’ Facebook page.
Now here is the response from Councilman David Marks:
Here is what we were told by eyewitnesses who were at the scene:
Although the cell phone was used as the lightning rod for this event, in actuality that never came to fruition. Students had approached the DJ and asked for him to announce a message seeking specific person about where the cell phone was located. In addition to that, eyewitnesses stated that before the DJ could make the announcement a fight broke out on the dance floor between two males. During that altercation, and this was a quote from an eyewitness, one of the males yelled out, “Holy (expletive), gun!” It was at that time pandemonium broke out and students began to flee. This event occurred on the gym floor of the high school which, at the time, was being used as the dance floor for the students.
One eyewitness described school resource officers intervening to break up the fight. It was not known many arrest were made or if anyone was taken into custody. In a unconfirmed report also indicated that a Baltimore County police helicopter was also in the area.
The Baltimore County Police Department responded in force as one witness described one police vehicle actually driving right up to the front door. The reason for this action is that, under new police guidelines after the tragic incident at Columbine, police are now trained to respond to the immediate threat as quickly as possible. The concept behind this is to neutralize any potential threat promptly.
Now comes the troubling aspect of the story. If you read the principal’s account, there is no logic to the email. Consider two factors. One of which deals with sound, the other deals with something that has become an everyday part of students’ lives – cell phones. It is our opinion that the students are smart enough to know the distinction between cell camera flash and the sound of a gunshot.
As is our policy, The Baltimore Post made numerous attempts to contact The Baltimore County Police Department and the BCPS public spokesperson, Mychael Dickerson. We were told Mr. Dickerson was in a meeting and would contact us after the meeting. In the second phone call to The Baltimore County Police, we advised them that the information we were receiving from eyewitnesses did not match the accounts provided by the principal of Perry Hall High School, Mr. Andrew Last.
The Post also believes strongly that this decision not to respond to our inquiry was made at the highest levels of county government. This type of action could be very damaging to one’s future political ambitions
The new interim BCPS Superintendent, Verletta White, will face some daunting challenges if her career as the leader of one of the largest school systems in the country is to continue. The following quote appeared in another Post article, “… a school system that has been mired in controversy over the past five years.”
The BCPS must provide transparency through leadership which, in our opinion, was sorely lacking under the previous Superintendent Dallas Dance.