May 23, 2018 11:03 PM
Monica Fabre at one time served as the principal at Harrison Education Center in Minneapolis
The Minneapolis Public Schools recruited her after she transformed other schools in other states with similar issues. Namely, staff working with students with extreme emotional or behavioral needs.
She was hired to supervise the district's only special education level IV school serving high school students.
"I needed to address the behaviors of these kids and the climate," she said. "It's like a prison."
One of her employees was Mohammed Dukuly. He served as a teaching assistant until he was attacked by a student.
Fabre reported the assault to higher-ups and said they did not put any systems in place to address staff safety or assist the children.
"If you have people who aren't qualified or training properly, all you have is a body," she said. "So instead of a facility being used to help the most vulnerable, you have a facility housing the most dangerous and somebody's going to get hurt or killed."
Fabre eventually was injured on the job. She suffered a concussion after being jumped by a female student. The student was arrested, charged and remains on probation until 2019.
"The district failed me and the failed the young lady that assaulted me," Fabre said.
Fabre said she wasn't shocked by the climate she walked into.
"The only shock was the district's unwillingness to change," she said. "MPS gets a lot of money for the children at Harrison and they do not spend the money on services. Our children need wraparound mental health services."
Fabre said she was met with resistance by district leaders over her proposals for systemic change.
After going on medical leave for chronic headaches and PTSD, she left her post at the school in 2016. She also filed a complaint with the Department of Justice in May 2016.
"The assault that I experienced at the hands of a student is a manifestation of MPS' failure to provide adequate support, mandated services, proper procedures, staffing and implementation of many research-based plans that I attempted to implement," she said. "I truly feel what MPS is doing is not only illegal but also abusive towards the students."
Harrison Education Center is the district's only special education level IV school serving high school students with extreme emotional and behavioral issues. Fabre said there is more of a focus on "housing" them throughout the day than learning.
In recent years, there has been at least five student-on-staff assaults.
On Tuesday, Dukuly was assaulted again. Exactly one week before Dukuly's assault, another staffer was injured by the same student who attacked Dukuly. That student was identified as Cory Burfield. Burfield has since been charged in connection with the assault on Dukuly.
Burfield's mom, Nicol, reacted to her son's arrest at the family's home in St. Paul. She said she hadn't talked to her son since the incident and feels bad for Dukuly's family.
KSTP has reached out to Minneapolis Public Schools for a statement but has yet to receive a response.
Updated: May 23, 2018 11:03 PM
Created: May 23, 2018 10:23 PM
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