School Safety: Students Slain Following Threats, Harassment

Published March 1, 2004

Last December 11, officials at Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond, Virginia reportedly heard an angry 16-year-old Philip Hicks threaten to stab his 15-year-old classmate, Justin Creech, because of a dispute over a girl. However, Hicks wasn’t recommended for suspension because no knife was found on him when he was searched by a security officer.

Hicks is now accused of fatally stabbing Creech a month later, on January 5, when both teens were truant from school.

In the case of 16-year-old Roosevelt High School student John Jasmer in Seattle, Washington, the father of a former Roosevelt student told a school district consultant last August that his daughter had overheard two other students planning to kill Jasmer. A few days later, Jasmer was dead and the two students were charged with first-degree murder, accused of luring Jasmer to the Tulalip Reservation, killing him, and burying his body in a shallow grave.

Seattle School District officials are investigating whether its employees failed to act on the information they were given about the danger to Jasmer.

The mother of slain 15-year-old Reagan High School student Ortralla Mosley believes the Austin School District and its officials could have prevented her daughter’s death last March but instead were “deliberately indifferent” to the danger she was in. In December, Mosley’s mother filed a federal lawsuit seeking $23.2 million damages from the Texas school district.

Mosley was fatally stabbed by a fellow Reagan student, 16-year-old Marcus McTear, during the final period of the school day. She had broken up with McTear the previous day and had told school officials she was afraid of McTear, who had a record of assaults against female students in the district.

“At the time immediately after those assaults or harassive acts, the district did not take effective steps to ensure that assaults and sexual harassment by Marcus McTear against female students did not continue,” the lawsuit charges.