“West High and the District are engaging in experimental,
ill-advised, and dangerous tactics to essentially bend over backwards
to not “offend” the OFFENDERS.” — A Parent
Madison high schools are erupting in chaos. Three high schools in one day, Monday, February 19, over the noon hour. Bad enough for the cop on duty to call for reinforcements. Police responded to melees at Madison West, Madison Memorial, and Madison East high schools.
From what we can determine, the misbehaving students were not peacefully protesting for gun control, social justice, or better cafeteria food. They were just fighting.
Let’s start with Chief Koval’s bare bones police blotter:
MIDTOWN: Disturbance – 12:12 p.m. MPD Educational Resource Officer (ERO) requested back-up to assist with a large disturbance in the cafeteria of Madison Memorial High School. Multiple officers responded to de-escalate the situation. Investigation continuing.
MIDTOWN: Disturbance – 12:27 p.m. MPD Educational Resource Officer’s (ERO) radio alarm was activated during a large disturbance at West High School. Additional officers responded to assist with the situation. Investigation continuing.
NORTH: Disturbance – 12:38 p.m. MPD Educational Resource Officer (ERO) requested multiple officers respond to East High School regarding a disturbance and an attempt to apprehend a couple of subjects. A juvenile (15 year old AAF) arrived at school (she was suspended) with two other subjects (20 year old AAF and 15 year old AAF) and started a disturbance. The 20 year old AAF was arrested and conveyed to the jail for trespassing and disorderly conduct. Investigation continuing with respect to the juveniles.
We have a little bit more on the situation at West H.S.. First, the notice to parents from the principal, Karen Boran:
Dear West Families,
I am writing to let you know about a disruption during our school day today. Shortly before 12:30 pm today, a small group of students engaged in a loud verbal altercation. Other students were present to see the incident that occurred in front of our library. Our staff quickly responded, but we also requested assistance from the police to bring the situation under control quickly and help to investigate the root cause of the conflict.
After we brought the situation under control, we were able to continue our normal school day. I want you to know that our staff responded quickly and the vast majority of our students acted appropriately and followed safety precautions.
Now this response from one parent, whose name I am redacting (edited for brevity):
Physical assaults and torn-off hair
Dear Principal Boran,
Thank you for the incident report about the “loud verbal altercation” that necessitated law enforcement engagement to put a stop to, and that we can all be thankful did not cross over into the “beyond verbal” realm of assaults, violence and melee. Surely in this aftermath of the Florida school incident we can all be thankful that it was not worse that it was …although the problem is that we really don’t know what exactly “it” WAS. And in the aftermath of that incident the time is right to take back our school and declare it a truly safe space once again.
… I would like to ask you as the Principal, what exactly happened?
My son said this was a very loud and aggressive happening involving a subset of the student population that he cannot help but notice and comment has also coincidentally been involved in all other altercations (including not just “verbal altercations” but also actual physical assaults and various melees including ones with torn-off hair strewn on the floor and a vast crowd of students teeming at the edges, filled with adrenaline, watching and getting thrills from the witnessing thereof).
… These altercations are seen as the NORM because students engaging in them are coddled and the peaceful majority of students are the real victims— living in constant awareness that for reasons unknown to them and that can and will never make sense to them — West High and the District are engaging in experimental, ill-advised, and dangerous tactics to essentially bend over backwards to not “offend” the OFFENDERS.
My son is also aware of and afraid, as are most students, that at any given moment, the PARENTS of the violent pupils can and HAVE enjoined the fray themselves, coming upon school grounds or adjacent — to add their fists to the fury, to add their own poor choices to the equation — to add their own adult level danger which can potentially include being armed.
Due to your policy, students at West have to fear not only violence from and among their fellow students, they also have come to fear the potential of violent ADULTS who are the parents of the violent pupils and who have NO qualms about getting down and dirty and exchanging violence with fellow parents and/or pupils.
A separate but unequal standard?
The overall situation at West raises concerns about the culture of accepted violence and non-discipline which is policy in Madison schools apparently. The origins of this insane policy are not clear to me … PERHAPS the policy is an attempt (albeit severely and horribly misguided) to not make things even worse and to just accept that certain subsets of pupils have within them an innate lack of self-discipline that just has to be accepted as a fact of life — an attitude which in and of itself is terrible and which does NOT seek to expect the best and bring out the best in all students.
Perhaps once would even be jaded enough to think that the policy seeks to bring about some sort of equity in discipline — by NOT disciplining those who act in violent ways … in effect bring some sort of leveling as to what subsets of students end up disciplined more.
… These pupils, allowed to continue in this mode of unacceptable behavior, have likely come to see the police stepping in as just a temporary hindrance and not anything to really have any deterring effect to make them reconsider continuing that lifestyle of violent aggression.
My son and most of his peers have come to feel there is no safe space from this subset of pupils — and that it is just a fact of life — almost as if living in a war zone —that it is only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose again, They are shell shocked, living with PTSD, and living in constant fear because they KNOW that nothing will come of it when these things happen – and they KNOW that is exactly why they KEEP happening.
‘West is not a safe place’
I can tell you, Principal Boran … that [a] majority of West students DO FEEL that West is not a safe place to go to school … they are all too horribly aware of the stark reality that a CONCERTED UNWILLINGNESS TO CRACK DOWN ON UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIORS — essentially a NON-DISCIPLINE POLICY – is what creates an environment that any concerned parent would find untenable, unacceptable, and frankly, would see as a broken system. The vast majority are therefore at the mercy of the tyranny of the few who DO engage in repeated unacceptable aggressive behaviors – and at the mercy of the school policy that coddles the offenders and brings fear to the hearts of the students who behave properly and just want to learn and make it home each day without “incident.”
… I can tell you there are great numbers of TEACHERS as well who feel the same way but who are all but silenced and made to submit to the groupthink that engenders such insanity — for fear of rocking the boat.
Irony of ironies, barely a week after a similar disturbance at La Follette High School and the school shootings at Parkland, Florida, the Madison School board is considering doing away with cops in schools. I’m attending the meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, at school administration HDQ, Room 103 of the Doyle Bldg., 545 W Dayton St. Madison.