Why student with violent history allowed in classroom

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - We're learning more and more about the East Texas student, now accused of killing his teacher. 16-year-old Byron Truvia is in the Smith County Juvenile Attention Center, charged with the murder of special education teacher Todd Henry at John Tyler High School. Ever since Wednesday's stabbing, we've been flooded with calls and emails from teachers and parents, wondering why Truvia, or any other student with a violent history, is allowed inside classrooms with other teachers and students.

After Thursday's emotional juvenile court hearing, Byron Truvia's sister told us he has recently served two years for allegedly beating another sibling. His attorney says he suffers from a lengthy history of mental illness. His family was forced out of New Orleans when Katrina hit. It is a difficult set of circumstances for anyone. Retired TISD teacher Deborah Walters says those circumstances can become difficult to manage inside the classroom.

"There were just some students that were too dangerous to be in the classroom," said Walters. "They weren't teachable because of a lot of things going around in their head...about their life."

But, she says they have to be dealt with.

"We already know he's potentially dangerous," said Walters. "That needs to be assessed strongly...so that we can prevent something like this tragedy from happening."

Any type of violent behavior is reason for expulsion from the classroom, but TEA spokesperson Suzanne Marchman says it's not always permanent.

"Schools can't go back and say, 'Well, you used to be a bad kid, or you at one time committed a crime...so we don't ever want to serve you,'" said Marchman.

By law, every student has a right to an education.

"If the student served their time, was released, came back to school, the school could choose to put them in an alternative setting," said Marchman.

TISD could not confirm whether Truvia had been placed in the district's alternative education program, but says each student and each circumstance is different.

"Safety and security is a concern that is now part of regular life for a school child...for a parent of a child...and we just have to look at how those needs are being met from the district level and is everyone doing everything they can," said Angela Jenkins with TISD.

TEA and TISD says there's no way to ever predict these types of incidents, even with the most stringent security measures in place. As for the criminal investigation...it's still ongoing. Smith County DA Matt Bingham says we won't know whether this 16-year-old will be tried as an adult until it is finished. For now, Truvia is still being held at the Smith County Juvenile Attention Center.

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