Violent confrontation prompts 2 JCPS investigations
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Disturbed by what he saw through cell phone video of a violent confrontation between a pair of students at Jeffersontown High School students and Jeffersontown Officers, Jefferson County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio announced the launch of two investigations over the incident.
"When I see video that clearly indicates it's not a supportive, positive environment for our students, it is incumbent of me to take action," Pollio said during an afternoon news conference.
He referenced the two videos which circulated widely on social media Wednesday and had even drawn national attention.
One video shows a student attacking an officer and both going to the floor. The other video shows the student being pinned down by several officers and even what appeared to be multiple kicks from one officer. The student was tased before he and his brother, which students said had been in a fight with a different student, were arrested.
Some students who spoke to WHAS 11 News said the officers were justified, as did Police Chief Ken Hatmaker.
"Even with three officers, this young man still fought and it wasn't a fight to get away, it was an active aggression on these officers and it took the initial officer and the two that assisted him to get him cuffed."
Several civic groups had a different response to the videos. The Louisville Urban League, in a Facebook post, called the incidents "very troubling" and vowed to get in contact with officials. The group, Dear JCPS, went a step further, referring to the officer's actions as "excessive use of force".
Chanelle Helm agreed.
"There was no de-escalation tactic taken that day on that child or the situation," Helm, who co-founded Black Lives Matter Louisville, said. "There definitely wasn't any de-escalation taken when [one officer] pointed his taser at the children as a warning."
A portion of one video does show an officer holding a taser up briefly at students who watched but were not involved in the incident.
Dr. Pollio would not take either side when asked, but chose to announce the audits which will separately look at the safety climate in the school, while the other focuses on the JCPS employees and their actions before, during, and after the incident.
Helm called for the removal of principal Dr. Matt Kingsley.
Kingsley replaced Pollio in the position in 2015. Pollio conceded there were incidents at the school when he was its leader, but said the reviews would help the district find the problem.
When asked by this reporter if he still had confidence in Kingsley, he replied, "Yes, I have confidence in the principal of the school but as we move forward, we're going to let this audit and review tell us where we need to go."
"Police officers need to leave our schools. SROs are not needed in schools," Helm said, referring to the use of school resource officers, "We need to make sure we are using transformative, restorative practices to assist students who have traumatic situations. If teachers can go to counseling these students can go to counseling too."
Pollio took a diplomatic approach answering whether school resource officers were effective, citing a contractual obligation to use them. He said effective officers are helpful and ineffective ones were not.
Pollio did not give a timetable on when the investigations should be completed but said he wanted them done as soon as possible.
i-Team Investigator Derrick Rose can be reached at 502-582-7232 and email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @WHAS11DRose