Saturday, September 27, 2008


Some of the Virginia Tech victims’ families, not satisfied with the Virginia Tech Panel Report, hired Vincent Bove (a leading authority on school violence) to analyze the report. All I can say is, bravo—Vincent Bove—bravo!

Mr. Bove accurately points out the report’s numerous shortcomings: its willingness to play fast and free with words, and its failure to hold people accountable for their actions and inactions. What Bove does not say or point out, are the parallels between the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law six years earlier and the Virginia Tech tragedy. These parallels are painfully clear to anyone familiar with both incidents. The fact that no one in Virginia, at any level, learned from the earlier school murders is inexplicable. Despite the lack of reference to the school shooting less than 200 miles from Virginia Tech, Bove’s report is on-the-money and highly commendable for his willingness to accurately and forcefully indicate the report’s deficiencies. For example:

First, Bove is correct in stating that the families of the victims “deserve to be treated with respect. They deserve apologies from those who failed them and left an indelible scar on their lives.” That has not happened at Virginia Tech, and the parents of Angela Dales, the student killed at the Appalachian School of Law, were often not treated with dignity and respect—and certainly never received an apology from any one.

Second, Bove is absolutely correct in asserting that, “(The) communications breakdown and the failure to effectively deal with Cho’s mental health issues are significant (factors that allowed the shootings to take place).” Just as in the case of Cho, the mental health warnings from Peter Odigwazuwa were ignored and never communicated properly. The report uses such phrases as “may have erred,” and Bove correctly asserts that such phrases call into question the veracity of the report. Indeed, “may have erred” is not only a cruel UNDERSTATEMENT, it is flat-out-wrong and borders on negligence of duty!

Third, Bove could not have picked a better word than “despicable” to describe the fact that the Virginia State Police and the ATF each declined to provide the panel with copies of the application Chou completed when he bought his weapons. In the case of the murder of Angela Dales, the State Police refused to give the Dales family access to a threatening email Angie received before she was killed, saying they did not know who sent it, but it had nothing to do with the shooting. If you don’t know who sent it, how do you know it had nothing to do with the shooting? Again, despicable!

Fourth, Bove points out that Virginia Tech’s lack of having a threat assessment team is a glaring deficiency in the school’s priorities when it comes to security and safety. Not only did the Appalachian School of Law not have a threat assessment team, the school had no security!

Fifth, Bove is correct in criticizing the school and its defenders who claim that a school cannot be locked down. He asserts, “It is irresponsible and illogical … that (the school) could not lockdown because Virginia Tech does not have locks on the inside of classroom doors, as in the case of most universities and schools.” A lockdown is not JUST locks on doors—it is cancelling classes, issuing warnings, calling in police and security, and taking every step possible to secure the campus. The Appalachian School of Law and its defenders also said they could not do anything. Really?! If someone on the second floor of the main school building, where the first shootings took place, had even thought to pull the fire alarm, the students on the first floor would have been alerted. If school leaders are not thinking, if they are not engaged in crisis planning, if they sit around in la-la land--nothing can or will be done. That is exactly the point!!!

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