Never Again: Virginia Passes Classroom Partition Safety Bill After Boy Is Crushed to Death - NBC4 Washington

Never Again: Virginia Passes Classroom Partition Safety Bill After Boy Is Crushed to Death

With the governor's approval, Virginia will become the second state in the country with a law regulating the use of motorized partitions in schools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Grandmother Speaks About Boy Crushed by School Partition

    A Virginia grandmother is preventing tragedies statewide after her 9-year-old grandson was crushed to death last year by a motorized classroom partition. On Monday, lawmakers passed a bill to require safety rules for the use of partitions in all schools. News4's Susan Hogan has the story. 

    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Nine-year-old Wesley Lipicky died in May 2018 after he was crushed by a motorized room partition in his school in Alexandria, Virginia.

    • On Monday, Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed a bill to set classroom partition safety rules statewide.

    • Lipicky's grandmother said she did everything in her power "to see that a tragedy like this never happens to another family."

    A Virginia grandmother has trouble calling the death of her 9-year-old grandson an accident.

    Wesley Lipicky was crushed to death in May 2018 when he got caught between a motorized room partition and a wall inside his school in Alexandria, Virginia.

    Sallie Dievendorf, his grandmother, prefers to call what happened a tragedy.

    "Maybe an incident. But it's so much more than an accident. An accident is something that happens that really is unavoidable," she said.

    DC-Area Schools That Have Motorized Room Partitions

    Click on the dots to see where room partitions are located.

    Source: Information provided by school districts.
    Note: D.C. Public Schools was unable to provide information on room partitions. Culpeper County Public Schools, Manassas Park City Schools and Spotsylvania County Public Schools said they do not have any partitions.

    After Dievendorf's work with Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax), Virginia is close to becoming the second state in the country with a law requiring the use of safety devices with all motorized classroom partitions. Only New York has a similar law.

    Virginia lawmakers unanimously passed a bill on Monday to try to prevent a future tragedy involving powerful motorized classroom partitions.

    The Wesley Charles Lipicky Act bans the use of motorized partitions when students are in the room unless the partitions have additional safety devices, such as motion sensors. Also, the bill requires annual training for anyone who operates the partitions.

    "Training is absolutely necessary," Dievendorf said in an exclusive interview with News4 inside her home in Williamsburg.

    Lipicky, a third-grader, was helping a teacher operate a partition in the gym of Franconia Elementary School in Alexandria on May 18 when he got caught between the huge partition and a wall, Fairfax County police said. He suffered severe head injuries and died at a hospital that night.

    A News4 consumer investigation found that of the 21 school districts in the D.C. area that have partitions, 17 districts had no formal, written policies on who is allowed to operate them.

    Family of School Partition Victim Fights for Change

    Family of School Partition Victim Fights for Change

    Virginia's schools should keep students safe. That's the simple plea of the family of Wesley Lipicky, the 9-year-old boy who was crushed to death by a room partition inside his Fairfax County school. News4's Susan Hogan reports on how Lipicky's family and a local lawmaker are trying to prevent future tragedies across the whole state. Go here to see the full testimony of Sallie Dievendorf, Lipicky's grandmother.

    (Published Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019)

    In the wake of the investigation published in September 2018, a number of local school districts strengthened their safety policies. Arlington Public Schools said they would no longer install the motorized walls. And Prince George's County Public Schools said they would train staff and set new rules.

    Dievendorf said her work over the past six months to protect children statewide kept her "sane."

    "Nothing that I do will bring Wesley back. Nothing can be done to do that," she said. "But I will do and have done everything within my power to see that a tragedy like this never happens to another family, at least in Virginia."

    Dievendorf said she thinks her late grandson would be proud.

    "He'll be glad that it can't happen to anyone else," she said.

    Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to approve the bill. 

    After Boy Is Crushed by Room Partition, Va. Lawmaker Acts

    After Boy Is Crushed by Room Partition, Va. Lawmaker Acts

    In the wake of a child's death from being crushed by a classroom partition, a Virginia legislator is introducing a bill regarding the devices' safety statewide. News4's Susan Hogan reports.

    (Published Friday, Jan. 4, 2019)

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