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Schools and turning 18

Original post made by Paly Parent, Palo Alto High School, on Mar 6, 2012

Today's incident involving an 18 year old student at Gunn makes me wonder how the schools treat our children once they turn 18.

The incident was definitely serious and warranted some action by the school, but is calling the police something that would happen in a classroom squabble if the students had been minors? If they had been 17, or 13, or even 11, do the schools call police to sort out classroom squabbles or should they?

Back in my day, I can't imagine that such serious action would have been taken even with someone getting hurt and requiring stitches regardless of the age of the students involved.

This sounds like a very sad story for all involved and I am glad that no serious injury took place. However, was this a result of prolonged bullying where the subsequent situation was a cauldron waiting to boil over? Was this a nice kid who just lost it and went too far? Was this a problem student who was always having problems throughout his school career? And was he treated differently today from how he would have been a couple of months ago when he was 17?

These are important questions and as parents of high schoolers, it is fair to discuss them. As high schoolers, 18 year olds are still under the parents control as far as the schools are concerned, in aspects of excusing absences and getting permission for school activities. But, if they misbehave, do parents get informed before the police? As students are they aware of this and as parents are we aware of this?

Comments (8)

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

The report states that the student assaulted one student with a weapon and then knocked out another student with the same weapon.

An 18 yr old male can kill with a metal paperweight or a metal staple gun.

Given the multiple assault and the seriousness of the assault this student would have been arrested is he was 14,15,16,17- or 18.

PAUSD has a legal duty to call the PAPD in these cases

As the student is 18yrs he will be charged and sentenced as a adult for felonies--if found guilty.

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Posted by Answer
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I know for a fact that police was called to a Palo Alto middle school in the past when a (Caucasian) minor was caught on campus with a swiss knife.

In other words, yes police will be called to campuses in PA for acts by minors, and not just minority ones.

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Posted by Correct
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm

It's the duty of a school administrator to involve the police when laws have been broken. Being 18 has nothing to do with it in the school's eyes except that the administrator doesn't need to call home for the 18 year old. Only difference for the school.

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:11 pm

It appears that Misael Sanchez--the Gunn student is being charges with 3 felonies--that is 3 strikes.

This was not just a school yard brawl with a bloody nose--a bystander was knocked unconscious with a blow from a metal weapon to his head.

It is very fortunate that he did not suffer brain damage or worse.

Such violence is rarely a one time event

This is not a case of over-reacting to rough housing in school

-- Sanchez allegedly used a lethal weapon with great force

--it takes a lot of violent force to render someone unconscious.

--the Gunn staff did the right thing in this case and Misael Sanchez will never return to Gunn campus.

Many schools are now equipping designated staff with bullet proof/anti-stab vests.

We hope we do not need to do this in PAUSD.

But training for designated HS staff with stun guns and pepper spray weapons makes sense.

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Posted by Ronnie
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Definitely a sad story all the way around, but the times are different now than in the old days (even the days back when us 30-somethings were growing up.)

I think the best thing is to instill in our kids is that when it comes to violence, a small act can have really big consequences. Movies and TV shows rarely show the assault charges when one character (the good guy) punches out the "bad guy."

An assault charge is one thing, but killing (which is usually permanent) or injuring someone can happen as a result of one small thing. I remember hearing about a couple of guys fighting after a Giants game - during the melee, one guy was knocked to the ground, hit his head, and died!

Don't be "that guy!" Just walk away. Don't antagonize people, don't beat people up, don't hit and you are far less likely to have a problem. If you need to defend yourself, do what you need to do to stop the attack, get away, call 911 and get a lawyer!

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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

A fight between 2 teenagers with wrestling and hands is one thing.

In the old days it often meant a challenge in the school or college boxing ring with a referee.

This incident at Gunn is very different

1-the 18 yr old used a metal staple gun as a weapon and drew blood

2-he also attacked - an apparently innocent bystander- and caused him concussion--that takes potentially lethal force.

He is now facing 3 serious felonies

Where did he learn that the way to deal with minor disputes is to use potentially lethal force?

As he is 18 he will be charged as an adult--the charges would be the same if he were white, black, brown, green or yellow--ethnicity has nothing to do with the charges

The PAUSD did the right thing and the PAPD did the right thing in this case.

Were drugs or alcohol in his system when he went berserk ?

Lucky that he did not have a baseball bat, knife or gun with him at the time.

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Posted by RussianMom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2012 at 11:20 am

RussianMom is a registered user.

I am glad to read your remarks. Bullying is unacceptable and SHOULD BE stopped. He had a right to talk to someone before the accident occurred. I am sure Gunn staff will pay a close attention and take actions. But I am sick and tired of all the wHining about non-Caucasian kids, about school ignorance, etc. None, independently on race and family cucrifices do not have a right to be violent at school. Period. Sorry, but I don't feel for the boy in legal trouble, but consider victim being the guy who ended up in the hospital. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Sad story and dissapointed with all readers support of the boy..
Also, why all of a sudden you need to register to comment???

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Sharon - get a clue - being charged w/3 felonies doesn't make it a 3rd strike offense.

Paly Parent - thanks for hte thoughtful post. When I turned 18 & was at Paly, I did keep in mind that I was no longer a minor, but I also didn't get into trouble. It was more along the lines of "I can now vote," etc.

The police & DA's office always arrest & initially charge as serious as they can. Often the charges are reduced/changed at arraignment, espec. if the defendant doesn't have a serious record & other factors.

Re the police being called - no matter what the age of the arrestee, I think the hospital may have been mandated to report, even if the cops hadn't already been called. I'm not up on all the current madated reporter laws, but I think this incident would count as one for hospital personnel.

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