Emergency meeting held to address violence at Lawrence High School

LAWRENCE, Mass. — An emergency meeting held at Lawrence Public Library Monday night addressed a series of fights at Lawrence High School and growing concerns from teachers, parents and students about safety.

The meeting between the Lawrence School Committee and Lawrence City Council lasted for three hours. It began with public comment from parents and teachers who demanded immediate changes to create a safer atmosphere at school.

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“These kids are going to end up with PTSD from everything they’re witnessing every single day,” testified mother Madeline Rosa.

Administrators laid out some adjustments being made in response to the fights including lunch schedule changes, staggered dismissal times and a heightened focus on students with the highest emotional needs. Those in attendance were not convinced it’ll be enough to make a difference.

“The students are acting out because their social and emotional needs are not being met,” said teacher Mindy Richardson. “There are students who don’t want to have lunch in the cafeteria because they’re worried about being caught in the middle of a fight.”

Public comment participants were asked to not mention any individual school official by name. That did not stop several calls for the resignation of Superintendent Cynthia Paris.

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“The administration and the school safety staff are just not doing their job,” said father Juan Lopez. “This is ridiculous!”

Parents, teachers and Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez have been asking for an end to the 10-year state receivership and a return to local control of the Lawrence school district. Some of those who came to Monday’s meeting were disappointed to see that State Education Commissioner Jeff Riley did not show up to answer questions on that topic. Riley did meet with Lawrence School officials earlier in the day.