As the community struggles with the shocking revelations flowing out of Greenbrier High School, a couple of vital questions remain:
A student was twice arrested as an adult for violent on-campus incidents this school year, long before the recent sexual misconduct for which he was charged last week.
So why was he still attending school?
One of those earlier arrests was in February, when 19-year-old Thryshaun McCladdie pushed one girl into another to instigate a hallway brawl. So school officials already knew McCladdies criminal record - notwithstanding any juvenile or school disciplinary record, which they dont publicly reveal - when another student a month later accused McCladdie of grabbing and fondling her during school.
Considering McCladdies background, why were Columbia County sheriffs deputies not immediately notified?
The answers to those questions may explain how, more than a month after the March fondling incident, McCladdie was still walking the halls of Greenbrier High School, where police say he was caught on a surveillance camera snatching a 15-year-old girl from a lightly traveled area near the gym. It was only when that girl accused McCladdie of sexual assault that school officials called police and also belatedly told them about the groping incident from more than a month earlier.
This case demands answers from every parent who will justifiably wonder how a violent young man could be returned to a Columbia County school again, and again, to be accused of even more acts of violence.
Its disheartening to see the pattern of behavior to which school officials failed to respond:
McCladdie was arrested for simple battery early this school year for an on-campus fight.
He was arrested again in February for helping instigate a scuffle in the hallway.
A month later, he was still attending school when a fellow student told school officials McCladdie grabbed and groped her. Yet despite McCladdies record, school officials considered the allegation a he said, she said case, says Associate School Superintendent Charles Nagle - and neither the girls parents nor police were told.
So McCladdie was still in school when, just over a month later, police say he grabbed and assaulted a 15-year-old.
And McCladdie was still in school the next day when a third girl says McCladdie assaulted her. That day also was the first time, since the February fight, that the sheriffs office was notified crimes were being committed at Green-brier - in spite of a written agreement with the sheriffs office requiring on-campus crimes to be reported immediately.
After the recent crash in which two Greenbrier kids were killed, school officials emphasized student safety is the systems top priority. If thats the case, why was a student with such a record of jeopardizing other students safety allowed to return to campus?
The schools principal, Dr. Sandra Carraway, says she doesnt discuss student discipline cases, which is understandable and legally correct. But this isnt a case of chewing gum in class: The school either ignored or failed to recognize a steadily escalating pattern of violence from a student who continued roaming among hundreds of children - attacking at least two of them after school officials were warned.
The Greenbrier community has had a tough year, as have other schools that have suffered student deaths. Those cases, however, were all accidents; these latest wounds to Greenbriers image are mostly self-inflicted - and healing demands answers.
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