Eastern High School Principal Answers Questions on Flash Mob Robbery
by Larry Janezich
Thursday night, ANC6A held an education conference as part of its regularly scheduled September meeting in an effort to get the ANC more involved in community schools. Some 60 residents attended the meeting held in Miner School. Also in attendance were CM Charles Allen and Ward 6 State Board of Education Member Joe Weedon, and the principals of most of the Capitol Hill Schools, among them Eastern High School Principal Rachel Skerritt.
Skerritt delivered a presentation on the general performance of Eastern High school, focusing on individual programs. In passing, she mentioned the “rocky start to the football season,” referring to the brawl that broke out among students from Eastern and Ballou High Schools which started in the stands and continued into the streets and around the Stadium-Armory Metro stop. She assured the community that the school was working closely with MPD and was fully prepared to manage behavior of students and guests as the season moves forward. She also offered that the school encourages calls to the school from residents regarding the behavior of students, and noted that residents have been surprised at the follow-up the school has provided regarding their concerns.
During the question and answer period following her presentation, Skerritt was asked if she could provide an update on the alleged participation of Eastern High School students in a flash mob robbery of the Barracks Row 7-11 and, given her previous statement about encouraging residents to call about student behavior off campus, why during just such a call on the 7-11 incident, the caller had been left with the feeling that the concerns were being dismissed, with the reply, “There’s nothing we can do – this is after-hours and off the school grounds.”
After being alerted to the incident, CM Charles Allen last week asked representatives of 7-11 to provide video from surveillance cameras to Eastern High to help ascertain whether Eastern High students were involved. Skerritt said the school had received the video and that it would be viewed by staff who would be ready to identify any Eastern High students who were involved. She said, “If we can get a clear view it will be easy to follow up” with DPS discipline.
She also said she had had a “strong conversation” with the staff member who had received a call from a witness to the 7-11 incident, and related that the staffer was “mortified” that the caller felt Eastern High had not been responsive to the caller’s concerns. The staffer, Skettitt said, told her the call had come at 4:15 pm and that the staffer had advised the caller to call the police. (The 7-11 event occurred at about 3:30pm – the caller alerted Eastern High to the event upon reaching home.)
Skerritt said that the call to the staff “did not get to me,” and that she told staff that in the future she wants to know about such calls. In addition, she said, staff will think about what else we can do, including more “collective messaging” to reinforce the idea among students that the school is accountable for them until they get home.
Councilmember Charles Allen followed up, saying that students are representative of Eastern High 24 hours a day. He added that he was confident that the principal would take care of the situation.