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Oliver Citywide Academy students to return to more security two weeks after assault on teacher

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

The nearly 70 students attending a specialized education center in the city are expected to return to the building Monday — more than two weeks after a teacher was assaulted in the school.

A student at Oliver Citywide Academy on the North Side allegedly assaulted the teacher in a classroom and was taken into police custody following the late September incident. Staff in Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office said that the student was expected to be charged, though they did not return requests for comment on Friday.

Just nine months ago, 15-year-old Marquis Campbell was killed outside of the school.

District spokesperson Ebony Pugh declined requests for interviews about security measures put in place prior to the students’ return. She did respond to written questions about a press release outlining the school’s enhanced security measures.

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The district assigned a third security guard to the school. Two-way radios will be in every classroom. Pugh did not answer if staff had previously had access to radios but said in an email that all classes are equipped with phones for emergency use. She said the school is taking a new approach to the distribution of two-way radios “that will ensure one is available in every classroom in a way to address prior misuse.”

The school will now have pre-enrollment meetings for staff to review materials from a student’s previous school. Pugh said the process is new and had not previously been in place. According to the press release, the school also has an “enhanced adult partnering system for staff.” Pugh said that staff members may still be alone with a student based on a student’s needs.

Pugh said in an email that students’ needs are varied and the staff in the school are coordinating mental health services while also focusing on students’ academic needs. All students in the 3-12 school have individualized education plans for their disabilities.

“The staff looks forward to the return of students on Monday and working closely with the counseling staff to identify needed supports. As we focus on the return of students and as the incident is an active police investigation, we will not be doing interviews on this topic,” Pugh said in an email.

The school will also train four new staff members who had not received Therapeutic Crisis Intervention training, a system school staff use.