Tredyffrin/Easttown school officials consider changes to safety policies after bullying incident



Months after an episode of well-publicized bullying at Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School, school district administrators have proposed changes to the district’s safety policy after meeting with parents and security experts over the summer.

The proposed rules, made public Thursday night, address how educators should respond to student threats, notify the community about problem behavior, and support the perpetrators and victims of abusive behavior, said Mark Cataldi, director of assessment and accountability for the district.

The impetus for the changes, which must be formally approved by officials of the 6,000-student district, is the result of bullying in the 2017-18 school year against 12-year-old Nora Nissenbaum.

After the young girl received anti-Semitic text messages and an alleged threat from a male peer, she was pulled out of the middle school and enrolled in a homeschooling program, said Sandy Nissenbaum, her mother, who attended the Thursday meeting.

Christian Hoey, the lawyer for the boy, said Friday that his client was “never charged, ever.”

“This matter was taken under advisement in the juvenile probation department,” Hoey said, “and they ultimately decided they were not going to charge him.”

He denied claims that the boy uttered a violent threat.

The Tredyffrin/Easttown protocol suggests creating a “Multi-Disciplinary Threat Assessment Team … comprised of school and district personnel to oversee the threat assessment process and consult with law enforcement.”

The district superintendent or someone designated would coordinate training for the team.

Cataldi said safety experts do not recommend a zero-tolerance approach, in which a student is automatically suspended or expelled if there is threatening behavior.

Instead, the proposed protocol says, officials should assess if a threat is “transient” (“I’ll kill you,” a competitive student playfully shouts before a sports game) or “substantive” (“I’ll get you next time,” a student says after a fight). Substantive threats, which suggest a greater risk of harm to others, officials said, hold more weight than transient threats.

The parents or guardians of a victim and the perpetrator would be immediately notified, as would the larger community, depending on the nature and scale of the threat, widespread concern, and law enforcement recommendation, according to the suggested amendments.

“Our school system has a wonderful ranking academically,” Nissenbaum said. “We should also have a fantastic leadership role in our safety and our support of children’s needs, mental health, and emotional health.”

Distracted Driving

Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as “an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards and other drivers. Distracted drivers do not react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on make-up, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents.  In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hour, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence.  Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment.  These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.

Driver Fatigue

Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that eighteen (18) hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol.


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who rush, run late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident and makes it far less likely that a negligent driver may maintain control of his vehicle sufficient to prevent a collision. High speed car accidents make it far more likely that those involved will suffer severe injuries or death.


At HoeyLegal, we know from our litigation experience that tractor-trailer drivers often operate at least one cellular phone which is in use at, during, or immediately prior to a tractor-trailer accident. Additionally, most tractor-trailers are equipped with data recorders which capture, in real-time, important vehicle operation events including speed, hard braking and other evasive maneuvers taken by the operator and the tractor-trailer.  It is imperative that this evidence be obtained before it is destroyed.  At HoeyLegal, our trial attorneys will obtain any necessary court order to preserve this evidence for trial.


Oftentimes, there are several defendants responsible for the tractor-trailer accident. In most cases, at least two defendants are responsible for the ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer.  There may be additional defendants responsible for the hiring and retention of the tractor-trailer driver.  At HoeyLegal, our investigators will promptly identify the responsible defendants and immediately request the preservation of all evidence related to the hiring and retention of the driver, inspection of the vehicles and the supervision and drug/alcohol testing of the vehicle operator.


Our accident investigators include mechanics who will immediately respond to the accident site and the location where the truck has been impounded in order to photograph the truck and conduct necessary mechanical inspections of the vehicle. In the event that a court order is necessary to examine and inspect the trucks, HoeyLegal Attorneys will promptly file the necessary motions to enable the HoeyLegal mechanics and inspectors to conduct a prompt evaluation of the mechanical function of the at-fault tractor-trailer


Our expert accident investigators include former Pennsylvania State Police accident investigators and nationally recognized engineers who will carefully photograph the accident scene and conduct all necessary measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, displacement of debris and thoroughly examine the accident site to preserve all evidence for the time of trial.


Our investigators will promptly interview and record all witnesses that observed the accident and collect all biographical information from the witnesses so they will available to testify on your behalf at trial.

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