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Safety 1st! March 1 incident at Facilities & Transportation

Incident at Facilities and Transportation
Safety always comes first at Walla Walla Public Schools

On Friday, March 1, a man entered the district’s Transportation Department building. He was wearing a black gator covering his full face, black sunglasses and a baseball cap. He was also wearing a GoPro type camera on his chest and a 35mm camera on a strap around his neck.

Transportation Department staff greeted the visitor professionally and asked how they could help serve him. He began asking questions about transportation operations related to safety. Transportation Director John Griffith overheard the conversation and came out of his office to assist. The visitor continued to ask Director Griffith questions about transportation protocols and operations, which Director Griffith answered completely and professionally. When asked by Director Griffith his name and purpose for the questions, the man only identified himself as Steve and stated he was working on a story for himself. He never identified himself as a member of the media and had no media credentials.

After answering his questions, Director Griffith ended the conversation and began returning to his office. 

Director Griffith and his staff felt unsafe and contacted dispatch to ask for the person to be trespassed. Police arrived on the scene and received confirmation from the Superintendent’s Office that the man be trespassed from all school campuses and facilities consistent with RCW and Board Policy. To district official’s knowledge, this individual has never asked to have his trespass order revoked or contacted any district official regarding the incident.*

Walla Walla Police later confirmed to district officials the visitor who claimed to be “Steve” was in fact Robert Anthony McDonell of Spokane WA. On Monday, March 18, McDonell released a video of the incident which he posted on his YouTube Channel. McDonell has made dozens of similar videos across Washington State schools, Post Office branches and other government municipalities.

Since the release of the video, district staff and school board members have been flooded with hundreds of obscene, vulgar and threatening messages from individuals across the country with no apparent connection to Walla Walla. District officials remain steadfast in their professionalism and dedication to the mission of the school district.

While the district values itself as a service-first organization, it will always put the safety of students and staff first. Walla Walla Public Schools will not allow unidentified citizens to violate Board Policy, attempt to enter restricted areas and potentially put the safety of students and staff in jeopardy. Safety always comes first at Walla Walla Public Schools.

*On 3-20-24 the individual contacted the district and requested to have his tresspass order revoked. After consultation with the district, the tresspass was lifted on 4-1-24. 

WALLA WALLA PUBLIC SCHOOLS • 364 South Park St. • Walla Walla, WA 99362 • Phone: 509-527-3000 • Fax: 509.529.7713

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