EVERETT, Mass. — Boston 25 News is learning of another Massachusetts school district dealing with an increase in fights since the return to school this year.
We first told you on Tuesday about six fights that were reported in one day at Lawrence High School. Lawrence has since added two more school resource officers and two more community policing officers to the high school.
Everett High School is also dealing with a pattern of fighting that’s being posted on social media for everyone to see. Boston 25 News obtained a letter that went out to families last week from Everett Superintendent Priya Tahiliani.
“In an effort to fully address understandable and serious concerns about the growing number of physical altercations among students at Everett High School, the Everett Public Schools is formulating a multi-pronged plan to help ensure the safety of all students and staff,” the letter states.
Several parents told Boston 25 News that the situation is making them fearful to send their kids to school. Students said the fighting that’s been happening regularly at school is hard to ignore.
“This year, there’s been more, like so far [more] than there’s been any other year I’ve been at the school,” said Everett High Senior Dante Freitas.
Freitas described a noticeable increase in security at the school but said that hasn’t been stopping the fighting.
“I feel like once some people see fights, that might start more,” Freitas said. “The school is trying their best to stop it…they only have so much control.”
Everett School officials held an emergency meeting with the Everett Police Department and are now assigning a senior leadership member to try to bolster school safety. Everett’s superintendent attributes the issue to something that schools nationwide are dealing with.
“Schools across the country are reporting more fights, a fact that can broadly be attributed to the difficulties students are experiencing in reacclimating to the regular social situations of a school day,” explained the letter to parents. “The angst and anger that results from instant and sometimes hurtful social media posts and interactions only adds to the conditions that we must confront.”
Administrators in Everett said they are still working on long term strategies and will be implementing the following steps at the school level:
- Issuing student badges or ID cards. To ensure that our students are properly identified upon entering the building, we will be implementing the student ID system as an extra measure to bolster school safety. This is especially important as all public school systems in Massachusetts are under a mask mandate at least through this month.
- Enforcing existing policies such as the dress code, which serve a clear purpose and which cannot be relaxed. For example, wearing sweatshirt hoods along with masks makes it nearly impossible to match students to their identification cards.
- Stressing to students the importance of responsible social media use, and the harmful ramifications of posting hurtful and disrespectful photos and comments. Students also need to be reminded that social media posts can have long-term negative impacts — that is, one’s digital imprint is permanent. Our students also need to understand that what might seem funny or harmless to one person can be triggering and traumatic to someone else.
- Utilizing all staff during unstructured student times, such as arrival and dismissal, transitions between classes, and lunch.
- Shifting the focus to school safety as a priority for the entire school community. As such, all staff will support and protect our school community. If this means that administrative duties need to be revised or changed, then we must do so, while still remaining in accordance with Collective Bargaining Agreements. There are 200 staff members in the high school with 2,100 students, a ratio that should allow us to resolve, if not eliminate, these problems quickly and effectively.
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