Stillwater, Ok September, 02 (The Oklahoma Post)
*WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SENSITIVE MATERIAL SURROUNDING CHILD ABUSE, INJURY, VULGAR LANGUAGE, AND RACISM: IDENTITY OF SOME PERSONS HAVE BEEN CHANGED
An Oklahoma School District is facing legal trouble again. This time in a case involving an Assistant Principal accused of failing to protect a minor child from harassment and then physically assaulting the young minority student.
Stillwater father, Robert West, is asking for the town’s thoughts and prayers following an alleged assault of his daughter in November, 2021 at the hands of Stillwater Junior High School Principal Kane Mach.
The father is alleging that in the fall of 2021, his child was enrolled at Stillwater Junior High School and since being a student at the school has been the victim of bullying and physical abuse by classmates as well as an additional alleged assault by a substitute teacher. Kane Mach is the Assistant Principal at the junior high school and is accused of body slamming the young student. On Mach’s Stillwater public school assigned website he lists his research interests to include: “at risk youth”, trauma informed instructional practices, classroom management, school discipline, assessment, and teacher professional development.
Several disturbing events had occurred at the school in which the young multiracial student, Jazmine [name has been changed to protect minor’s identity], had been the victim of harassment, verbal and physical attacks by classmates. A notable event was a physical assault by two classmates as she sat on the toilet in one of the school’s restrooms. That event went unreported, with the exception of mentioning the assault in documents recommending the young victim be moved to Epic Schools. Jazmine had recently been a student at Epic Charter School, a private school in Oklahoma, but had sought going to public schools in order to play softball and have teammates.
Many of the complaints to the school by the father were in an attempt to cease the racially charged comments toward Jazmine, regarding her skin tone.
On the day of the alleged attack, Assistant Principals Kane Mach and Jason Riggs were removing Jazmine from the cafeteria because a verbal altercation had taken place between two groups of students. Upon breaking up the argument and escorting Jazmine, Mr. West’s daughter, to the office, another student hollered down the hallway, “That white bitch needs to stop acting black,” at which time Jazmine instinctively turned around to respond to the racially charged attack.
She never had the opportunity to respond, as it is alleged that at that moment the 14-year-old girl was placed chest-to-chest by Assistant Principal Mach and swung around. That’s the last thing Jazmine remembers. She awoke to Mach having his knee on her chest, while she lay injured and in pain on the hard, cold hallway floor. The event left Jazmine with a completely shattered shoulder among other injuries.
Immediately following the incident, several of the victim’s friends called her father to notify him of what had happened. Mr. West drove to the school only to be greeted by Principal Crystal Szymanski, the Assistant Principals, and School Resource Officers who barred his entry into the school as he tried to tend to his daughter’s injury.
“My daughter was severely injured by Principal Kane Mach when he body slammed her” West pointedly explained. He further went on to say, “No safety plan was put in place or followed by the school to prevent the abuse leading up to the incident, nor is there a plan today.” Stillwater Junior High instead chose to implement a verbal only “safety plan” intended to keep his young daughter, Jazmine, and Assistant Principal Mach separated from each other – although Mach remained in the same building, working.
The lack of enforcement has led the father to believe his daughter is now fair game for harassment at the school. West further alleged that months later a substitute teacher placed his hand inappropriately on his daughter’s butt and the school took no action.
School Resource Officer Jared Noles wrote an official police report about the incident between Jazmine and Mach, then forwarded it to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington in November of 2021 who declined to bring charges for Battery as it was written in the report. Battery is an unlawful application of force directly or indirectly upon another person, causing bodily injury or offensive contact. The attempt of battery is assault regardless of title or position, when applied in such a way for a 14-year-old to lose consciousness and completely break a shoulder.
Few people other than the two principals witnessed the event. According to the father, one teacher witnessed the events then told Mr. West he would “do whatever he could to assist with bringing justice, ” when referring to the Assistant Principal’s actions, but later changed his story in official school documents to state that his door was shut and he didn’t know an altercation had taken place. When Mr. West requested to review the school’s security cameras, he was told there were no video cameras functioning at the location of the incident, which happens to be in the hallway adjacent to the principals’ offices. Mr. West said, “they told me ‘there was a blind spot.'”
West believes the school and police are obstructing justice and that the district failed to initiate a Title IX disciplinary proceeding, which is a process designed to protect students from harassment, and the Stillwater Police Department and school leadership worked to sweep the issue under the rug.
The public school is no stranger to controversy. In the recent past, an SJHS student committed suicide just steps from “the pit” (near the office, where cameras should not have blind spots), a traditional social gathering spot for junior high students. Recent scandals also include the disgusting story of former SJHS teacher Alberto Morejon who has been convicted of inappropriate communication with students. Citing these instances of abuse, parents in Stillwater deserve much more support of their stories alleging misconduct.
“Crimes against children happen all too often and, unfortunately, the offenses are frequently committed by persons who stand in a position of trust with the victim,” District Attorney Laura Austin Thomas told KFOR news following the Morejon case. You don’t say?
The West family has hired an attorney, Don Smollen, and is in the process of making notice of the pending litigation. The incident left his daughter with severe injuries. She had to undergo surgery to correct her bone issues and will potentially suffer future loss due to the attack. Word on the street is that she could throw a heck of a softball before her shoulder injury.
“Principal Kane Mach will finally be held responsible for body slamming of my 8th-grade daughter” West stated in a recent Facebook Post.
“There is a racial issue within the Stillwater school system that must be addressed. The people of Stillwater do not want to face what is going on. There is just one black educator at SJHS.” West stated.
The father, originally from North Tulsa and Owasso and had moved back to Oklahoma from Galveston, said that their time in Oklahoma has been made difficult due to the situation. “No one would listen!” West exclaimed.
He continued, “Community problems cannot be fixed if they are not brought to light and discussed.”
The Oklahoma Post reached out to Stillwater Public Schools and Mr. Mach prior to the posting of this story, but have yet to receive a reply.
(Writing By Gregory Moyer; Editing by Robbie Robertson)
Copyright 2022 The Oklahoma Post
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