Our View | Let’s hope State College school officials learn lesson

July 24, 2013 

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It would be nice to say the State College Area School District earned top marks for its responses to an alleged stalking episode at the high school.

But we give school officials a C.

True, in April they promptly banned Penn State student David Adewumi from State High after he reportedly stalked a 17-year-old female student to the point that she felt unsafe at school.

According to court papers, Adewumi, a 25-year-old State High graduate, had introduced himself to the young woman while sitting in on one of her classes during the winter and into the spring of this year.

They began seeing each other. But after he constantly texted her, pressured her to leave home and threatened revenge if she told her father, the teenager thought he was becoming obsessive and broke up with him, as she later told police.

Adewumi, who ran for president of Penn State’s undergraduate student association two years ago, now faces stalking and harassment charges after a three-month investigation. He is accused of contacting the student through emails and text messages and occasionally running into her, despite a protection from abuse order filed against him in May.

State College Area Superintendent Bob O’Donnell gave the right answer when he told Centre Daily Times reporter Mike Dawson that the district is working to improve security at State High’s two unconnected buildings.

Under school policy, building principals must approve classroom visitors, who are required to register in the front offices and cannot be alone with students, O’Donnell said.

“We want meaningful learning experiences to be taken advantage of, but we simply want to ensure ... that safety is prioritized,” O’Donnell said.

But that’s only good for partial credit.

By declining to discuss Adewumi’s initial classroom presence, filing the matter under “student or personnel issues,” O’Donnell raised more questions than he answered.

Why was Adewumi visiting in the first place? Was he helping teach the class? If he wasn’t, what was he doing there?

Adewumi and the teenager reportedly attended the same church but didn’t meet until at State High. Did he go to the class attracted to her?

Did the teacher, whom the criminal complaint did not identify, follow school protocol for the visits? Or was this a lapse in judgment?

Did Adewumi have the proper clearance to be in that classroom with young people?

In this day and age — when school safety has become even more of an issue after the Sandusky scandal and the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — State High’s students, parents and teachers deserve more than an incomplete explanation.

They should know how a grown man way beyond his teen years came to be hanging out in a high school. And they should ask exactly what the school intends to do to improve its security procedures.

State High and the community were fortunate that the story didn’t end in violence and that nobody was physically harmed.

While many questions remain, we hope school officials learned a lesson.

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