A series of fights and arrests at Lawrence High School has put school officials, parents, and students in the city on high alert.
Fourteen students were involved in altercations on Friday, school officials said, and staff were hurt while trying to intervene during a fight that broke out Tuesday. On Wednesday an incident at dismissal resulted in three students getting arrested, according to Superintendent Cynthia Paris.
“I’m saddened by that,” she said during a public meeting on Wednesday. “Our students are in crisis.”
Paris said she was on the campus Tuesday when an altercation broke out during first lunch.
“What was incredible was when the two students were at this fight, one student passed the phone to another one, ensuring that the student was recording the altercation, and later requesting it for reviewing and asking about her performance during the fight,” she said.
There have been five arrests and 12 summons issued since the start of school, according to Lawrence Police Detective Thomas M. Cuddy.
A dean and some teachers had to receive medical attention as a result of intervening in physical altercations among students, according to Lawrence Teachers’ Union President Kimberly Barry.
“Our kids are in crisis right now,” Barry said in a telephone interview. “We think the district should hire additional staff –teachers, mental health workers, nurses – because everyone’s spread really thin right now.”
On Tuesday Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez released a statement regarding the recent spate of violence at the high school.
“Multiple altercations at Lawrence High School in recent days has confirmed to us that in-person school after a more than twelve-month break is taking a mental and emotional toll on students, educators, and the community alike that will require special attention and additional resources in our school community,” Vasquez said in the statement. “To ensure that our students have a safe educational environment The City is assigning all the resources available to remediate the situation.
Vasquez said two additional school resource officers and two additional community policing officers have been added at the high school “while we work with students, parents, teachers, the community, administrators, and police to resolve the root causes of the incidents.”
“As always I will continue to work with the School and Police Departments and other stakeholders to produce a solution that empowers Lawrence families and protects students and educators.”
“At this time the police department will continue to assist the schools in investigating each individual incident. A special thanks to Chief Roy Vasque and the Lawrence Police Department as well as LHS staff for their work in responding to altercations.”
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.