Brockton school officials asking for National Guard support to prevent ‘potential tragedy’

BROCKTON, Mass — Members of the Brockton School Committee are calling on the city’s mayor to ask Gov. Maura Healey for National Guard support amid safety concerns at the high school.

Brockton School Committee members Joyce Asack, Tony Rodrigues, Claudio Gomes, and Ana Oliver sent a letter to Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan on Thursday asking that he request temporary National Guard support at Brockton High School from Healey “to assist in restoring order, ensuring the safety of all individuals on the school premises, and implementing measures to address the root causes of the issues we are facing.”

Asack, Rodrigues, Gomes, and Oliver confirmed Monday that the letter has been sent to Healey’s office.

However, in a statement from the mayor Monday afternoon, he says he “does not support utilizing the National Guard at Brockton High School.”

“While we appreciate the suggestions put forth by four school committee members, we believe that such measures are not appropriate. Instead, we are committed to employing a collaborative approach that involves the entire community, including parents, students, educators, and law enforcement, to tackle these challenges head-on,” said Mayor Sullivan.

“We need to give our administrators the tools to keep order in the school, including amending certain State rules and regulations that currently hamper these efforts. National Guard soldiers are not the answer,” said Mayor Sullivan. “We have had school police working effectively and safely at the high school for decades.”

In a press conference outside the high school around noon, the four School Committee members spoke about why they want the National Guard deployed into school hallways.

“If you support safety within our schools, you will support the National Guard to come in here and to keep our students safe,” Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues said that school officials are looking for the National Guard “to come in” and “act as substitute teachers, hall monitors to make sure that the high school is safe.” He added that the city’s middle schools and elementary schools are also of concern.

Rodrigues said Brockton is not the only school district in the state grappling with the problem of violence among students.

“It’s across the Commonwealth. You see Framingham dealing with the same issue,” he said.

Some of the School Committee members said their letter has garnered some negative reaction from the community.

Of the National Guard, Oliver said, “We’re not asking them to deploy a whole army to our school. We’re asking for support.”

“We have some great students in Brockton. They are doing excellent work. They’re coming in, getting an education. They are following the policies with the educators,” Oliver said. “But we do have some that continue to not do what they’re supposed to be doing, and that’s what we need help with.”

“We got to the point where, we’re seeking help,” Asack said.

The four School Committee members ended their press conference without taking any questions from media.

WATCH LIVE: Brockton officials speaking about push for National Guard to restore order at high school.

WATCH LIVE: Brockton officials speaking about push for National Guard to restore order at high school.

Posted by Boston 25 News on Monday, February 19, 2024

In their letter to the mayor, the School Committee members wrote, “We, the undersigned members of the Brockton School Committee, write to you with a matter of utmost urgency regarding the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and the community at large. Recent events at Brockton High School have prompted us to seek immediate assistance to prevent a potential tragedy.”

The four School Committee members cited instances of students wandering the halls, altercations, and disruptions that have led to 35 teachers calling in absent. The School Committee members say recent weeks have seen an uptick in instances of students leaving school grounds without permission and trespassers being found on school grounds.

“These incidents are not only undermining the learning environment but are also jeopardizing the integrity of the state-wide testing process,” the school officials wrote. “These situations not only put the students and staff at risk but also undermines the overall safety of our community.”

Earlier this month, Brockton High School teachers and students demanded change after a violent fight on school grounds spread online.

“I was the only one in the cafeteria at the moment. There were supposed to be two teachers but the other supervisor was absent. A fight broke out with girls wandering the hallways they came in to attack another girl in the cafeteria,” said Nora Acevedo, a Brockton High School teacher. “It has become very unsafe being at the school teaching and the students as well.”

Last May, another violent incident was reported and investigated at the school after three students were stabbed.

“The National Guard’s expertise in crisis management and community support can offer a vital temporary intervention, allowing for a comprehensive, long-term solution to be developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders,” the letter said.

“We understand the concerns and fears that these incidents have generated among students, parents, and staff, and we want to reassure everyone that we are actively addressing them. We urge the community to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or concerns to the authorities promptly,” said Mayor Sullivan.

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