Fairfax Co. Superintendent temporarily halts ‘motorized room partition’ use following student’s death

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent made the decision to temporarily halt the use of motorized room partitions or motorized panel doors following the horrific death of a 9-year-old student.

According to Fairfax County Police, Wesley Lipicky and a teacher both simultaneously pressed a button to open the large partition on Friday afternoon during a School Age Child Care (SACC) program at Franconia Elementary School. The partition is used to divide the school's gymnasium.

Police say the boy suffered traumatic head injuries when he was caught between the partition and a wall.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital Friday night.

Photo Credit: Penguins International

An autopsy performed this morning found this to be an accidental death and police say no charges are expected in this tragic case.

A spokesman for FCPS says the teacher was placed on leave, and provided the following statement:

"FCPS is conducting its own internal review of the circumstances that led to Friday’s tragic incident, which will include a review of all safety procedures and protocols to ensure the safe operation of this equipment."

A team of Franconia support staff members including counselors, psychologists, social workers and members of an FCPS crisis team were available Monday to support students, staff, and parents.

Terri Edmunds-Heard, Principal at Franconia, also sent a lengthy message home to parents, which read in part:

"We will miss Wesley very much. He was an endearing child whose bright smile and enthusiasm for school inspired the love of all who knew him."

School officials say the motorized room partition was added to the gym back in 2007 and requires a key and pushing of two buttons for it to move.

Police say the partition was manufactured by Modernfold. In a statement, a spokesman told DCW50:

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Wesley Lipicky. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family, friends and the entire community.  Based on what’s known at this time, all indications are that the partition was functioning properly and this was a terrible accident. We will continue to be a resource to the school in any way that we can.”

A Fairfax Co. teacher started a GoFundMe page for Wesley's family.

In lieu of flowers, the Lipicky's are asking that donations be made to support penguin conservation and research in honor of their "young penguin lover whose beautiful life was taken too soon."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed that they are investigating the incident.