School violence has gotten so severe in one New York City middle school that the Department of Education security chief Mark Rampersant made a rare visit on Friday. From body slamming in the cafeteria to beatings at a bus stop, the school’s poor track record makes parents rightly afraid for their children’s safety.
According to the New York Post, parents of students at 75 Morton—the middle school in question—feel that the school isn’t doing enough to stop the violence.
The new principal, Valerie Leak, has mostly been relying on restorative methods to solve the disputes. With these methods, students do not face punishments like suspension. Instead, they calmly talk about disputes in a circle with teacher supervision.
“That’s fine, but when there are no other consequences, things are going to happen,” shared one mom. “If kids know they can get away with something, they do it. That is what’s happening here.”
The school’s restorative methods are likely based on the Department of Education in New York City’s partnership with a group called the Center for Court Innovation. The group works to eliminate school discipline discrepancies based on race, gender, and disability.
Maya Brewster, PTA president, said that with 75 Morton being a diverse school, most parents support what Principal Leak has been doing and how the school disciplines students.
“We are doing the hard work,” said Brewster. “What is not acceptable is having to constantly battle with a community of people who do not support it.”
Parent Joe Sherinsky also believes Principal Leak is doing what she can to help acclimate students after COVID disruptions.
“I think things have calmed throughout the year,” Sherinsky said. “You have a new principal in a new role, kids in a new situation. It was rough for everyone but she has been taking the steps needed to address it.”
But 7th-grader Paul Ramos doesn’t think there are enough school safety agents to patrol the six floors of 75 Morton. After getting hit with a locker door, Ramos transferred out.
“I was being kicked around, messed with, punched,” he told local station CBS2.
“Nothing was done,” his mother Olivia Ramos shared. “They just said they would take care of it but nothing was done. There are no consequences.”
The fights at the school have become so widespread that a Snapchat group was made to document the violence called “75 Morton Fights.” Video clips show everything from fights in the stairwell to students getting beaten at bus stops.
Paul Ramos is right in saying there aren’t enough safety agents to go around. The School Safety Division reports there are 2,000 fewer agents because of budget cuts and the vaccine mandate.
The New York Police Department says they’re training new safety agents, but it’s a class of only 200, which is much lower than usual. And it takes about five months to train them, so if they start now, they won’t be ready until September.
The Department of Education has a public link to report incidents, but parents tell CBS2 that they’re discouraged from using it because it reflects badly on school administrators.
After security chief Mark Rampersant’s visit on Friday, the Department of Education said they’ll bring in more personnel to address safety concerns at 75 Morton, including paraprofessionals, school aides, and social workers.
What do you think of the school’s and the Department of Education’s efforts to address violence?