After assault of middle school teacher, administration tightens campus security


Kaitlin Hsu

Security guard Brendan Carroll patrols campus on Tuesday evening. Administration is evaluating and reinforcing security across all campuses after a Jan. 2 assault on a middle school teacher.

by Meena Gudapati and Sahana Srinivasan

As a result of the early morning assault and robbery of a Harker middle school teacher on Jan. 2 at the Blackford campus, school administration is currently expanding and reinforcing security protocols at all campuses.

Police arrested a suspect on Jan. 4 in the assault and robbery of the teacher, who was preparing her classroom the morning of the first day of school after winter break.

Police believe this was a random attack.

The administration is conducting a review of school security systems and has entered into a contract with international security and emergency preparedness firm Nelson Safety and Security.

Founder and Managing Partner Victor Rocha is currently conducting assessments with written feedback regarding safety and security on each campus, which will likely be completed by the end of February.

“We want our community to be safe and to feel safe,” Head of School Brian Yager said. “It’s important for learning and growth that you’re in an environment that feels secure; that is and always has been an essential element of this school. It’s really important for us to make sure that everyone feels safe, and I hope people do feel that now even despite this incident.”

While the review is taking place, the administration has added an extra security guard and implemented earlier start hours for morning security, a nighttime patrol and monitoring along the back fence at the middle school.

Self-defense training operations for staff are being implemented by the administration. The first workshop was for middle school staff, but future seminars will be open to all staff.

Rocha and the administration are currently reviewing safety and security suggestions made by parents and staff.

On Jan. 5, San Jose Police Department Chief Eddie Garcia announced that Andrew Bracamonte, 23, had been arrested and booked on multiple criminal charges.

Bracamonte, who resided a half-mile from the middle school campus, is not a registered sex offender and is not currently on parole.

English teacher Patricia Lai Burrows is covering the teacher’s classes during her absence.

It is the official policy of the Winged Post not to name survivors of sexual assault.

Outpouring of support to teacher includes notes, gifts, GoFundMe

Students, faculty, staff and families from all Harker campuses have outpoured support for the teacher in the last month.

Students and middle school faculty met on a weekend in January to switch the teacher’s classroom with another classroom on campus.

A GoFundMe campaign, “Support of Our Beloved Teacher,” has also been set up by Harker parent Sholeh Diba Goetting for the teacher. The campaign, which opened on Jan. 3, has raised $56,740 as of Jan. 30.

“I’ve gotten a lot of emails from concerned parents just expressing their condolences and their support,” Head of School Brian Yager said. “I know that others have gotten that too, and the teacher herself has gotten a lot of cards and comments from students and colleagues and parents, so that emotional support has been really lovely.”

Additional reporting by Rose Guan, Kaitlin Hsu and Maya Kumar.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on February 5, 2018.