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Safety & Discipline

Security guard injured by student at Pittsburgh King school

Natasha Lindstrom
| Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, 7:57 p.m.
Pittsburgh King PreK-8 school in Pittsburgh's North Side.
Pittsburgh Public Schools
Pittsburgh King PreK-8 school in Pittsburgh's North Side.

Hours after King PreK-8's staff discussed safety concerns Thursday with district leaders, a student assaulted a security guard at the elementary school in Pittsburgh's North Side.

The guard, whom district officials declined to identify, was treated at Allegheny General Hospital and released, Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.

A minor injury was inflicted by a student around noon when the guard was called to respond to an issue involving that student, Pugh said. She would not provide further details.

Thursday's incident marked the third act of violence linked to the school in a little more than a week.

The district has increased the school's number of security guards from one to two and assigned its districtwide mobile patrol unit to use the King campus as its home base, Pugh said.

The most severe incident happened last week, when a parent allegedly threw a brick through the open car window of King teacher Janice Watkins while she was sitting in traffic near the West End Bridge. Watkins was hit in the face, knocking out a tooth.

Daishonta Williams, 29, the woman charged with assault in the case , told police she believed the teacher had tried to choke her daughter during an earlier incident that involved her daughter's cellphone being taken away.

On Tuesday, another teacher sought medical attention after an incident involving a student at the school, Trib news partner WPXI-TV reported.

At 7 a.m. Thursday, King's teachers, administrators and staff held a meeting to discuss steps to improve safety with Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

“Of course there were some emotions around the recent event, particularly last week's event (involving Watkins),” Pugh said, “but the meeting was received very well in a very open dialogue.

“The staff provided their concerns as well as solutions to creating a positive school culture,” she continued. “They identified some immediate actions that the district is going to act upon and then some other items the district is going to explore.”

In addition to increasing the school's security presence, the district will consider adding positions to support existing staff and teachers, Pugh said.

Hamlet told the Trib on Wednesday that he doesn't see King standing out as a problem school, but he wants to ensure it has enough resources to respond to and prevent acts of violence. He noted that this week's incidents have received more attention because of the brick-throwing assault last week.

“Districtwide, this is not the norm; it does not happen often or on a regular basis,” Hamlet said.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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