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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
FairfaxOpinionEditorial: School safety falters when rules are ignored

Editorial: School safety falters when rules are ignored

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As thousands of Northern Virginia high-school seniors walked across the stage to collect their diplomas and begin the next phase of their lives, one of them had other places to be.

The morgue.

Eighteen-year-old Luis Mejia Hernandez was stabbed to death just a week before the end of classes at Alexandria City High School during a May 24 fight at the McDonald’s parking lot at the Bradlee Shopping Center near the campus that, according to police, involved 30 to 50 students.

(To digress: “Alexandria City High School” is what used to be called “T.C. Williams High School,” before the renaming-brigade forced a change. We don’t find fault with the new name, but the stabbing incident certainly is a reminder that school leaders ought to be focused on more important things than virtue-signaling. Educating students and protecting them should seem to be atop that list.)


Alexandria isn’t in our coverage area, but this incident serves as a warning to those in the communities we do serve.

It’s not just, as the Alexandria Times editorialized after the incident, “we are sliding, as a city and a nation, into a culture of criminality.” That ship has sailed; life is cheap in the USA of the 2020s, and few seem to actually care how the collapse of a moral compass has contributed.

This week, however, we only wish to focus on one aspect of this sad incident. Because none of those students, including victim Mejia, should have been at the shopping center during lunchtime in the first place.

Alexandria school policy is that they either could remain on campus, or could take school-provided transportation to other schools in the community, but were not allowed to go ranging about elsewhere.

“It appears [the policy] was not enforced on May 24,” the Alexandria Times said in coverage. “It is not clear whether it has previously been enforced with regularity.”

And therein lies the rub: Rules are put in place, but enforcement proves inconvenient, so they are ignored. (Ignoring established policy may end up costing Alexandria taxpayers millions in the lawsuit that surely will come.)

School safety – whether in Northern Virginia or Uvalde, Texas – is only as good as policies being enforced. Had they been, one suspects Mr. Mejia would have collected his diploma, celebrated and, hopefully, lived a long life.

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