Baltimore County Public Schools have been the scene of a number of violent incidents in recent months. Last December two girls in a high school locker room got into a fist fight. One girl was airlifted to a hospital with a serious head injury. The other was arrested and charged with assault.
A Franklin HS (Baltimore Co) student was seriously injured this morning during a locker room fight. Police have made an arrest. The school was placed on lockdown during the altercation. More details at 5 and 6 on WBALTV pic.twitter.com/LUj7YArlVB
— TIM TOOTEN SR (@tvtooten) December 2, 2021
In January another fight at a different high school was broken up by a School Resource Officer using pepper spray. In February, there was a shooting in the parking lot of a Catonville high school. In March, a fight at Parkville High School caused the school to be briefly locked down. The very next day a female student was arrested after a fight between two groups of people at Chesapeake High School. Police had to be called and a resource officer was injured during the fight.
With all of this going on, last Thursday Baltimore County Public Schools held a listening session with parents who are concerned the city’s schools have become dangerous places for their kids. Parents say it’s not just the high profile fights and shootings. There are constant lower-level disruptions and violence taking place.
“We need behavioral policies that act immediately to reduce the current level of violence within in our buildings,” the parent stated. “As adults it is our responsibility to provide students with safe, secure learning environments by any means necessary.”
Other parents at the meeting compared Baltimore middle schools to fight club.
“I knew the transition from elementary to middle was going to be a difficult one, but I was vastly unprepared for what would soon become my son’s reality,” said Sarah Valentine, a parent of a sixth-grade student, “Daily assaults, arson, deadly weapons and even shooting quickly replaced recess and circle time. My once carefree son now consistently has to worry that he will fall victim to an act of violence,” Valentine said.
Christy Cachiaras said she has four children enrolled in Baltimore County schools and said two of her children were assaulted in the past week.
“It feels like sometimes we’re sending our kids to fight club. It’s really sad and scary. I would urge the board to think about some balances between protections for victims and protections for the offenders,” she said. “We do have a lot of mental health issues that are the result of quarantine and the pandemic.”
Tuesday of this week, Fox45 held a townhall event titled “Your Voice, Your Future: City in Crisis.” One city councilman blamed the problem on trouble at home.
Bullock, a former political science professor at Towson University, defended the school system and the Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises, saying that students are often the product of troubled environments. He explained the city council has limited control over the city school system.
But former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah who was also a speaker at the event said Baltimore officials have been passing the buck for too long.
Vignarajah questioned city leaders’ pattern of “passing the buck” when it comes to questions about the performance of city schools.
“Let’s not pretend that three generations of children in Baltimore have not been failed by us. And if it’s not the city council, and it’s not the mayor, and it’s not the CEO of schools, we can’t just keep saying the Republican governor is to blame,” Vignarajah “I’m a Democrat. I’d love to blame Governor Hogan, but it’s not Governor Hogan’s fault that the city schools in Baltimore have been broken for 50 years.”
He’s not wrong about that. Unfortunately, the city doesn’t seem eager to make any real improvements. Just yesterday before this town hall event an 18-year-old student was shot outside Dunbar high school.
Here’s a local news report on what parents said to Baltimore administrators last week.