This school violence incident that was reported on today involving a junior high school in Pennsylvania is troubling on many levels. On the one hand, you have an eighth grade student who finds a lighter in a school bathroom, and then, while the rest of the class is watching a video, takes it upon himself to light a fellow student's pants on fire.

And the school didn't report the incident to the police until the next day.

To be sure, the mere fact that it would enter anyone's mind to undertake such an offensive and violent action is downright frightening. But the school's lack of response to this incident is - on some level - perhaps even greater cause for concern, and here's why:

The school was apparently looking out for its own self interest before that of its students.

I don't believe that the school didn't think that this incident was serious; that would be patently absurd. Rather, the only reason I can divine for the school's failure to report this incident promptly was the school's fear that an investigation could have negative repercussions for the school, perhaps being found guilty of negligent supervision. And in so doing, they made something very clear: the school puts its students' safety second.

And that is simply unacceptable.

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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