Superintendent Letter: OHS Incident Update 1/13/23OHS Incident – Investigation Update – 1/13/23
Dear Oswego City School District Learning Community,
I am writing to provide an update about the recent Oswego High School incident that took place this past Monday, January 9, 2023.
As we stated to our school community hours after the incident, the district did conduct a comprehensive investigation which included, but was not limited to, discussions with students and staff who had relevant information, as well as a thorough review of all available video footage. That investigation has now been completed.
Investigation outcomes were consistent with the initial written information and findings that I shared with our community earlier this week. A copy of the letter with this initial information (dated 1/9/23) can be found on the district main webpage or at the following URL: https://www.oswego.org/districtpage.cfm?pageid=1866.
Since our investigation began, we have learned of several rumors that have been circulating on social media. The first rumor asserts that our current OHS School Resource Officer (SRO) has been in our schools since the beginning of the year and was involved in a previous matter that involved a taser. This information is false. Our current SRO officer is new to our school and has only been working with our students for less than two weeks.
Secondly, social media and local media reports have falsely indicated that our SRO pepper sprayed students and staff while the incident occurred. Our investigation demonstrates that the pepper spray was accidentally deployed while several students were striking the officer near the area that the pepper spray was located on his belt.
Third, an initial press release circulating on social media contained incorrect information:
- The release indicated that students tried to get the officer’s firearm from his holster. Our investigation, subsequent review of the footage, and interviews determined that report to be false. The officer said he “felt a student grab at his duty belt.” It should also be noted that his firearm remained secured in his holster throughout the incident.
- The release also incorrectly stated that “the situation was brought under control by responding deputies and Oswego City Police officers.” The situation was brought under control by staff members in the cafeteria.
We have received several inquiries from members of community who have asked us to provide details about the disciplinary records of the students who were involved and/or consequences that they might receive. While we understand the community’s concern, the district is unable to provide information about the disciplinary records of our students. Doing so is a violation of student privacy and educational law.
With all matters that involve student behavior, the district utilizes its Code of Conduct to ascertain the most appropriate responses that should be employed. The Code of Conduct can be found at https://www.oswego.org/tfiles/folder829/CODE%20OF%20CONDUCT%20Full%202019.pdf.
Given this recent incident, the district has been reflective of our current practices and behavioral expectations for our students. Additionally, district staff and administrators have continued to develop strategies that we will utilize to ensure the health and safety of our entire learning community.
Please also be advised, the district has completed and/or is in the process of doing the following:
- Meeting with the OHS Faculty and Staff – On Wednesday afternoon OHS Principal Ryan Lanigan met with OHS faculty and staff to discuss this incident and strategies that they will employ to ensure that the high school moves forward in a positive and safe manner.
- Meeting with our Health and Safety and Faculty Liaison Committees – Throughout this week, district administrators met with members from our Districtwide Health and Safety Team and the district’s Faculty Liaison Committees. During both of these meetings, staff shared professional development opportunities and additional support considerations that are needed moving forward.
- OHS Public Address – Earlier this morning, OHS Principal Ryan Lanigan virtually addressed the entire OHS student body. During his address, he discussed the recent incident and shared district behavioral expectations with students. In addition, he shared that in the near future a group of faculty and staff will engage with students to address and discuss a variety of topics which include but are not limited to: social justice, behavioral expectations and matters of diversity, equity and inclusivity.
- Ongoing Professional Development and School Programs – After hearing from members of our faculty and staff, the district is now engaged in organizing additional professional development for our staff and specialized programs that address student needs. These learning opportunities will be made available to staff and students within the near future.
- Updating our Health and Safety Protocols and Code of Conduct – Throughout the rest of this school year, the district will be working on updating its health and safety protocols and procedure and its Code of Conduct.
Accordingly, we will continue to work through each of the items listed above and collaborate with our entire community through this concern and future concerns that might arise.
Should any of our community members have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to reach out to your school principal or my office directly at 315-341-2001.
Yours in Education,
Mathis Calvin III, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools