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School police officer from George Washington High School dies on duty

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A 50-year-old school police officer at George Washington High School died Monday after he took ill at the school, according to District officials.

Daryl Giles, a 19-year veteran, was found unresponsive in a staff bathroom, said District spokesman Fernando Gallard.

"It's a sad thing," said Gallard. "We are saddened and shocked; we lost a member of our family."

Earlier in the day, there had been a fight in the school that resulted in the arrest of three students. Gallard could not say for sure whether Giles was among those who responded to the incident and whether that had anything to do with what happened. 

"I cannot say whether there was any connection with a fight in the morning," Gallard said. "I cannot confirm whether he was one of the officers who responded to that fight. But it is very likely that he was."

News reports say that he was involved in breaking up the fight and told a fellow officer that he was suffering from chest pains.

Washington, with more than 1,500 students, has a full-time nurse, who was in the building at the time. The nurse attended to him when he was found and he was transported to Holy Redeemer Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"He was described by everyone as someone beloved by students and staff alike," Gallard said. He said several distraught school police officers were sent home early.

Gallard said that there will be counselors at the school tomorrow for students and staff and that District personnel are also helping Giles' family.

Two students this year have died after falling ill in schools that did not have a nurse on duty at the time. The incidents stoked outrage at the District's budget problems and severe nurse cutbacks over the past two years.

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Dale Mezzacappa

@dalemezz
Dale is a contributing editor at the Notebook. She has reported on education since 1986, most of that time with The Philadelphia Inquirer.