Davenport IA Nov 22 2016
Former police officer Frank DeToye says he is trying to recover from two concussions which have left him with brain damage, after dealing with one too many out of control students at Smart Intermediate in Davenport.
"There's been lock downs, fights, some brutal fights you have to get in the middle of," said DeToye, who used to train MMA fighters.
He was hired last school year as a security officer at Smart, after years of being a policeman in Bettendorf, Bluegrass, and Madrid, Iowa.
After just two months on the job at Smart, he says he suffered his first concussion.
"I remember waking up at the hospital, not knowing what day it was," said the 59-year old.
"Some of these kids are so out of control, their rage is so strong, " he said.
"Frank's got a severe head injury, and I think these students are capable of doing worse," said Frank's wife Carol.
He has short-term memory issues, blinding cluster migraines, and trouble with his balance and speech. He is seeing a neurologist in Iowa City and undergoing occupational and physical therapy.
Carol fills in some of the blanks.
"Frank restrained the student, with his arms around him. The student kicked up his legs, off the lockers. Frank and the student went flying back and Frank took the brunt of the brick wall," she said.
Before that, there were other injuries on the job. He says he and other staff were bitten, punched, kicked, and spit on.
Frank and another security guard were hired last school year to monitor 30-some kids on Smart's third floor. That was the designated area for kids with "behavior disorders".
But, he says resources were limited, limited training, and few consequences for really bad behavior.
He says the policies allowed by the district to police the kids were not adequate, and resulted in danger and chaos in the classroom and "crisis room" where kids were taken to cool off.
" The consequences were so minimal. One kid, he took three dictionaries and hit me in the face, and it gave me a big black eye. He was was sent home for one day," he said.
"They're not only bullying the other students but they're bullying the staff. Some of them are in gangs, all day long, they're throwing gang signs. They tore a conduit off the wall and used it to hit staff people. They tore the phones off the wall. It is on a daily basis that it was out of control," he said.
A union rep for teachers says there were "significant" safety issues last school year at Smart, but says he hasn't received any complaints this year. He says a new principal and policies have made a change for the better.
"There's been some steps taken, positive steps taken to reduce, if not eliminate any of the violence and security issues that they had last year. Last year, it was significant to the point where I was receiving phone calls from teachers in the building. It seemed like there were no consequences for students who exhibited bad behavior. The administration in the building was not taking threats and outbursts seriously," said Toby Paone, with the Iowa State Education Association.
Paone says the new principal this year has implemented a "new crisis prevention system", and so far this year, has not heard any complaints from teachers.
Change for the better is too late for Frank.
"His speech is broken up. He can't find the words, " said Carol.
"I've been married to Frank for 34 years, and this is the new Frank now," she said.
After his first concussion in January, he returned at his request part-time in March, but says he suffered a second head injury.
"After that day, he wasn't okay, " said Carol.
Frank actually went to Smart when he was a boy and says he took the job to try and "help kids."
"The thing that's really sad is you have some of these staff people who are some of the greatest, and every day they try so hard to work with these kids and everyday they're getting bullied and beat on. And they still come to work," he said.
The school district has not contacted the DeToyes, except by certified letter in October.
The letter states "to date you have been off work due to an alleged injury incurred on January 7, 2016...the District was unable to hold your position open indefinitely....effective October 31, 2016 your employment with the Davenport Community School District will be terminated. Thank your for your service to the students of the Davenport Community School District. We wish you the best in your future endeavors.
The Davenport School District was contacted one week ago to offer perspective but declined to be interviewed for this story.