In February 2018, as schools around the country faced fears of another school shooting in the wake of the attack at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a High Desert Middle School student was detained and interrogated for two hours in response to rumors he planned to bring guns to school.
The boy, Brock Wicher, was not convicted of a crime but he was transferred to a school for children with behavioral problems, where he has suffered, according to his attorney.
Now his family is suing Bend-La Pine Schools for violating Brock’s rights, damaging his reputation and disrupting his education.
Brock’s complaint, filed Wednesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court, names as defendants High Desert principal Susan Heberlein, special education teacher Jon Williams and district superintendent Shay Mikalson.
“During the time Brock was held in a room by Williams, Brock asked multiple times to call his mother from the office phone, and Brock attempted to do so,” the complaint states. “Each time Brock would pick up the phone to call her, Williams pressed the hook switch and prevented Brock from making the call.”
Mikalson did not return a cellphone message left Friday.
“We’ve not yet been served, but we will be looking into it,” said district spokeswoman Julianne Repman.
Brock’s family is seeking more than $50,000 for the alleged violation of his due process rights, false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
On Feb. 15, 2018 — the day after the massacre in Parkland — Williams, who was acting vice principal that day, pulled Brock into an office at the beginning of the school’s fifth period. The boy was 13 and a seventh grader at the time.
Williams and High Desert’s school resource officer were present for the more than two hours of questioning, according to the lawsuit.
Brock wasn’t offered water, nor was he allowed to use the bathroom, the suit states. The suit cites a district policy requiring that if the “physical restraint or seclusion” of a student lasts longer than 30 minutes, the student must be provided “adequate access” to a bathroom.
When Williams briefly left the room, Brock sneaked to a phone and called his mother, Angela Millsap.
Millsap then called the school to find out why her son was being detained and was transferred to Williams, who told her teachers were on “high alert” in response to the Parkland shooting, according to the lawsuit. He told her that day a fire alarm had been pulled and “someone” said there were guns in a backpack.
“(Williams) implied he believed Brock might be involved in one or both instances because of statements by other students,” the lawsuit states.
Williams put Millsap on speaker and spoke with a deputy sheriff, who is not named in the suit.
She asked if she needed an attorney.
The deputy said she did not.
Millsap drove to the school and arrived to find her son in a room with police officers and Brock “crying hysterically,” the complaint states.
Williams told her repeatedly Brock’s story “did not match” those of other students, according to the lawsuit.
After his bag was searched, Brock was allowed to leave the school. Days later, a sheriff’s deputy went to Millsap’s home to deliver citations to Brock and told her people at the school were “outraged” and it would be a good idea for him to transfer schools because of how he may be perceived after the incident, according to the lawsuit.
The Bulletin does not normally identify juveniles suspected of crimes, but in this case the child is no longer accused of a crime and he presented this legal action in civil court under his own name.
School officials “urged” Brock to transfer to Tamarack Program, an off-campus facility in Bend for students with challenging behaviors and mental health needs, according to the lawsuit.
Since the interrogation, Brock has been subject to disparaging remarks from other students, according to the complaint.
“Due to the district’s moving of Brock to Tamarack, Brock has suffered academically, emotionally and socially,” it states.
The charges against Brock were later dismissed and there are no pending counts against the boy, according to the family’s attorney, John Michael Myers.
“Obviously we have concerns about the impact on this student, but it’s also important that nothing like this ever happens to another student in the district,” he said.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, firstname.lastname@example.org