by Christopher Butler, The Enterprise
New state law makes suspending students hard. Is that tying Brockton's hands?
by Christopher Butler, The Enterprise
‘I have never seen Brockton High in such disarray': BPS teachers depict chaos in school
by Christopher Butler, The Enterprise
Brockton Special School Committee Meeting 2024-01-31
The following transcripts were machine-generated and may misspell names—please see media coverage above for accurate names.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
I have hearing of visitors that Mrs. Campbell, I want to thank Melinda Campbell for always working on this, but quite a few signed up. As you know, a lot of you that have been here before, we do have a three minute minimum maximum to speak. You go to the podium, you speak. It is being filmed again for BCA and then Mrs. Campbell will let you know when the three minutes lapse. We have quite a few people, so we don't want to shortchange anybody. You do have three minutes. The first individual that signed in is Stacy McDonald, which is the B-E-S-D-H President. Ms. McDonald, please.
Speaker 2 (00:38):
Good evening. Mayor Sullivan. Yes, school committee and Dr. Cobbs. I'm Stacey McDonald, the union president for the Brockton Educational Support Professional Association. besa, I'd like to share some quotes with you from my high school members as it relates to the daily safety and security issues at BHS that are overwhelmingly shocking and deplorable. I walked into the girl's bathroom. They were all smoking. I asked them to put it out. They did. Then five minutes later, they're doing it again. Same individuals called down. I reported it. Nothing was done. Sexual activity in the stairwell reported it. I doubt anything is done, never is walking into my classroom in the fine arts building. Looked out the window, saw our students letting three kids in the Azure door called down, reported it, nothing done. Students being sent to the dean's office. Coming back 10, 15 minutes later, nothing done.
I was told to F off and mind my business numerous times. This is how all staff is spoken to knock to the ground as the students were running to video a fight. These are the words that I've heard echoed over and over. Nothing is done. I sit here and I listen to these school committee meetings and I am happy that we can report that there's some great things going on but that cannot overshadow or draw tension away from the ever-growing safety and security concerns that show no sign of wavering. Today is the second school committee meeting that was scheduled to discuss these issues. Clearly, our concerns were ignored. In November, you all decided to focus on other stuff without resolving this one.
There are still students sitting in the stairwells instead of classrooms kicking on classroom doors, vandalizing every place they can, inciting and condoning fighting, assaulting each other for notoriety, smoking, vaping, and dealing drugs at Brockton High. Open your eyes. Stop beating around the bush and act immediately. We don't have time anymore and ignoring our pleas, it's failing our students at BHS. In closing, one more thing. On January 16th, this school committee, four of you voted to not go into executive sessions. I'd like to remind you and all of you in the audience the executive session was including a bargaining item for the safety and security at BHS That faded decision two weeks ago. You continue to ignore our pleas. You could care less. All you're worried about is what's going on with who's who and who's going to be vice chair. Stop pointing fingers and put aside your personal differences. It's time to do your job. Put policies in place, stand firm behind those policies and support all staff at Brockton. High enough is enough up.
Speaker 1 (03:45):
Kimberly Gibson, BEA. President, please, Ms. Gibson.
Speaker 3 (03:52):
Good evening. I stand before you as I did on November 14th to address the safety concern at Brockton High School. As you know, last week a student was taken by ambulance due to a fight in the cafeteria. In addition to that incident, we had two other serious and unacceptable incidents involving students going into classrooms with a purpose of finding a specific student to assault. During other incidents this school year, BEA members have been injured breaking up fights between students, students cutting classes wandering. The building is still a huge growing issue that has not been addressed properly. Having no consequences for this and other unacceptable behavior is part of the overall issue. On November 14th, I talked about the failed cell phone policy that has yet to be enforced or fully implemented. How can you institute a policy and not enforce it? That's not a policy. It's just words on a page that mean nothing in your failure to enforce the policy.
Undermining all staff at Barton High School and trying to regain order and accountability. The cell phones are creating a plethora of issues. Students are posting lucrative videos recorded during the school day, showcasing violent and disturbing behavior without any concern for consequences since there aren't. Jenny, they include fighting, playing ding dong ditch by kicking closed classroom doors, interrupting the learning in those classrooms, hanging out in the stairwells. Some cases vaping marijuana, openly harassing staff and students walking by trying to incite others to do the same. Those are just to name a few. Now bickering about the vice chair position. I hear from my members all the time, what's a waste of time? This is in taking precedent over your job as school committee as it is. You don't even have a policy subcommittee meeting scheduled for two weeks. You are failing our students in our community by engaging in personal vendettas on a public stage, which is the last thing brought to public schools needs.
You'll hear from high school teachers tonight who have felt unheard and unsupported. They continue to show up to work in an environment that is mentally and physically draining. Would you go to work to be verbally abused every day? Would you sit by while a colleague gets pushed by a student? Would you want to worry about being attacked in your own classroom because that's where we are now, or be that teacher who felt helpless when she could not protect that child? You do not have enough bodies at your high school to cover every stairwell. This is a budgetary issue. You need to develop a strategic plan to target behaviors with enforceable documents and consequences meant to deter the behavior from continuing. Why not? I'll keep doing it. Nothing happens to me. Teachers have reported individual students with over 80 class cuts already. What is being done last year, drastic measures were taken to curtail negative student behavior that impacted the entire student body.
We're right back where we were. This is not just a high school problem. It's a city problem. The FY 23 budget deficit is overshadowing everything. We still have many concerns about FY 24 and worry about FY 25. I'm asking you on behalf of all BEA members at the high school to listen to their stories that the BEA members are going to bring forward to you tonight. This is their reality and they and Brockton High School students are facing every day as a Brockton High graduate and the BEA president, it frustrates and disheartens me to hear these stories and to hear that my members feel like nothing is being done to address the issues. I want you to know that the BEA stands ready to work with Dr. Cobbs, principal McCaskill to fix these issues in all of you, to get the high school back to where it once was and still can be. Your time is up one of the best high schools in the entire country, but you won't get there without your help. Thank you.
Speaker 4 (07:13):
Speaker 1 (07:20):
The next person is Dee Jones, please.
Speaker 5 (07:28):
Good evening to everyone in their respective positions. My name is Dee Jones and I'm an educator within the Brockton Public School system. Today, I'm coming before you as a parent of a student of East Middle School on Friday, December 1st, 2023, my son experienced something he should have never had to experience from a trusted adult at his school. A teacher came into his classroom and used the N word, not once, but twice. I censored it for you today on purpose. Unfortunately, my child and his classmates, they didn't get the same respect that I'm giving you today and their children, her specific words directed to the substitute in the room. First were I took a phone from one of your students because they were using it in the hallway and they called me the N word. Again, censored. A student from the class said, please don't use that word because it's offensive.
She then approached the student in her face and said, and I quote, maybe you need to be offended. Then she turned to the class and directed her next comment to a class of 12 to 15 students by saying, do I look like an end to you censored? I refuse to believe that in this day and age an a culturally diverse community such as this one, that a teacher is allowed to throw out a racial slur and her only consequence was the two month paid vacation. Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was she not fired, but she's allowed to come back to her same position. I came to this meeting today to have my voice heard and to get some answers. Since Dr. Cobb has refused to accept my phone calls, I think his words were something like, I won't speak to her because it's a personal matter. Well, as a black male, why doesn't this offend you the way it's offended me? Why aren't you just as angry and disappointed as I am? What ethical practices does our district have in place when something like this happens? Because right now the only steps is a paid vacation.
Why is she here? Why are our students' feelings not being validated? What were her consequences? Shame on the district and most importantly, shame on anyone who played a role in making this decision. Lastly, I want to finish by saying thank you for taking the time and emphasize that our students deserve better than how this was handled. I will always be my child's biggest advocate, but today I come before you to stand in the gap for all the children that were violated that day. I'm here on their behalf because they matter to me what needs to happen before they matter to you?
Speaker 1 (10:13):
Lydia Bloodsworth, please. Lydia Bloodsworth.
Speaker 6 (10:23):
Good evening. Good evening. My name is Lydia Bloodsworth and I'm a senior at Brockton High. My biggest concern as a senior should be my plans after graduation, not how my two younger sisters in the school system will be affected by the lack of direction of the Brockton Public Schools. We are all here because we're concerned specifically about safety at Brockton High School and we should be. There are fights practically every day. Student and teachers are suffering bodily harm, which I included in an email to every member of the school committee in late October after witnessing blood being mopped up in the Azure core.
The security guards who are supposed to be monitoring the hallways lack training and professional standards while they're aware of problems like students skipping class and smoking, only a few do anything about it. I watch a number of the security guards turn down the volume on their walkies while they socialize with students during the day, often with headphones on or phones in their hands. My teachers often have to step out of class at least twice during each period to stop teens without passes, et cetera. So how am I supposed to thrive in an environment where my teachers are doing the security guards job while trying to teach me an AP course? At the same time, I'm a student in the green building, which now shares its space with a completely different school. Since September, our deans and other building's leaders have been dissolved and become, I believe they're called ambassadors of Climate and Culture.
No student I know understands this hierarchy or who will turn or who to turn to for help. Our building has no leadership. We were never informed who our leadership was, and most of us have had to search for a guidance counselor in another building. My new guidance counselor was swamped enough before green students added to her roster and she barely knows me and I need her help for college, and I haven't had an adjustment counselor since freshman year, at least not one that I was ever aware of or that reached out to me. So clearly emotional wellbeing and mental health isn't much of a priority at VHS either. I will say though that the only place in the building I feel safe is the Yellow Library, the only library out of four in the building, still standing, leaving one librarian for the entire school in one room that has a 30 person capacity.
Most days, there are only one or two bathrooms available for each sex to use at VHS. That's 3,900 students and only about four bathrooms open a day. We were told that administration locks the bathrooms to ensure our safety and cut down on vaping. All that has done is bring vaping into the open in the hallways, stairwells between lockers that haven't already been torn down and made it really uncomfortable, if not unsanitary. For the rest of us. During January 16th meeting, it was said that VHS's cafeterias were practically empty and that the number of teachers absent was less than I believe four. Any student or VHS faculty member could tell you this is nowhere near true as every day we all receive an email with a list of absent teachers who do or do not have substitutes. After going through just about every email between September and December, there were an average of 20 teachers absent without a substitute for day and in January. That number is still 10 or more, meaning that with Desi's reported 15 to one student teacher ratio in 2023, that is still at least 150 kids in cafeterias every day at any given time, not including those kids that skip class are already in a study, et cetera, and I'm confident that that ratio has changed since pink and blue slips were handed out. When I began writing this on the 24th, I got a pass to go to the bathroom and instead went to each cafeteria period one without being stopped for wandering once. I'm
Speaker 3 (13:31):
Sorry, your time is up.
Speaker 6 (13:33):
Speaker 1 (00:04):
A Larry Kin please. A Larry Kin.
Speaker 2 (00:14):
Speaker 3 (00:15):
Good evening everybody. Thank you for coming out for us and supporting us at Brockton High. We really, truly from the heart appreciate it. Two immediate to-dos on your list, please give teachers back their keys. They're having sex and doing drugs and cutting class in empty classrooms and we can't lock our own classrooms. They're stealing laptops and they are vandalizing. I've had colleagues have all their family pictures thrown all around the ground, smashed up and totally destroyed. We need our keys back now. You could do that tonight for us. So you want a to do, there's a to-do. The other thing is there are plenty of adjunct staff have them sub for us and take 30 kids out of circulation, especially during testing. Okay, we just got through access testing where it looked like South station at rush hour in the hallways the entire day. Okay, so there's another concrete suggestion and now I'm going to just give you a little taste of how it feels.
What if I asked you to balance two tall stacks of cups and saucers in each hand with boiling hot tea in each cup? I am sure that if I taught you and you focused and practiced over time, you would be able to do this with some level of accomplishment. However, if I put you on a ship that was in the North Atlantic in the middle of a chaotic storm, even with concentration and effort, you would spill the water, break the dishes, and end up burning yourself and others. There are 3000 students along with your building staff, and that's not just teachers, that's the cafeteria workers, that's everybody I am including here that are coming in each day and attempting to balance those stacks of cups intently. BHS is that ship. The 300 to 700 are the source of all of our turbulence. They are creating waves and the climate that we are experiencing. There is not one person, not one in that building who is not adversely affected every single day by the utter chaos that it has become at Brockton High Schools in building experience, teaching and learning on a stormy ocean liner is not possible because nobody has a sense of security or safety at their foundation. We need a calm, see for everyone to do business of education. We are a school after all. Thank you.
Speaker 1 (02:56):
Mark Richardson, please. Mark Richardson.
Speaker 4 (03:07):
Good evening. Good evening. My name is Mark Richardson and I've been a prod Brockton Public School teacher since 1995. I am currently my 28th year of teaching kids at Brockton. In my first year, I was a long-term substitute teacher at West Middle School. One of my teachers cluster teachers that year was retiring and he told me whatever I did, I should make sure I get out of Brockton. For the past 28 years, I've told that story to colleagues, parents and students, but the punchline has always been that I've been grateful to not have taken his advice. I tell my students all the time, you want an education in part to get a job that never feels like you're going to work for 28 years. That's been true for me. I have loved my job at North Middle for 22 years and BHS for the past six.
My students have always been one of the best parts of my life. Therefore, what I'm about to say gives me no pleasure. We have a major crisis at the high school and I think first of all, we must have policies with clear consequences that are enforceable. This is currently not the case. In particular, we need a cell phone policy. What we have now is rampant cell phone usage that serves no academic purpose whatsoever. Cell phones are responsible for much of the chaos at the high school unless a student is in a high academic level course, they want little to do little except to be on their phone during class. In addition, as soon as there's a fight, instead of helping students impede adult's ability to break it up by taking out their phones, recording the fight, sending it all over the buildings, they also use their phones to text information about upcoming fights, spread rumors about others, and engage in bullying and harassing behavior. If you take action on anything you hear tonight, please ban the use of cell phones at Brockton High School for the students.
My second point is more general in nature. My colleagues and I strongly feel that the level of disrespect from students at the high school is an all time high. Just today when I told the student he was not a yellow House student and therefore could not be in cafeteria, he screamed at me, who are you to tell me what to do? This was a 14-year-old freshman followed by a stream of profanity that I obviously will not repeat here. The sad thing is this happens every day at the high school. Who among you wants to be subjected to that kind of verbal abuse on a daily basis? In addition, many of us, myself included, put our safety on the line each day when breaking up fights. We do this because we believe in protecting our students, but now we worry that we could be subject to legal action by doing so.
No teacher I know wants to watch a child get beaten up, so we get involved, but we need to know that someone has our backs when we do so. We've been told that it's about three to 400 students who are disrupting Brockton High School. Please find a safe alternative for them where they can, the help they need so that we can continue to educate the 3000 plus who come to Brockton High for that purpose. If you act on these issues, I can be in a few years the retiring teacher who can say to teachers, just starting out, stay in Brockton. It's a good place to teach. Thank you.
Speaker 1 (06:22):
Nora ato, please. Nora ATO, please.
Speaker 5 (06:34):
Good evening. School committee members, colleagues, Dr. Cobbs, students and families. My name is Nora Acevedo. I am an ESL teacher at Brockton High. I have been a teacher at the high school for almost 20 years. I would like to read some of my students' letters today. My ELL students wrote about how they felt during the days they were testing for the access test. There are some edits for clarity and anonymity and I quote I did not like all the time I spent in the cafeteria with nothing to do. The best thing that the school could have done was canceling all classes for everyone who was not testing and only have people who were testing attend school. Students should not have to wake up in the dawn of the day to go to school and do nothing for four periods straight. Another student said during the testing time it was difficult for me to go to the bathroom.
It is always locked or we need a pass. You can't go upstairs because the bathrooms are closed. When I don't have a class and go to the cafeteria, it is very hard to study or learn something with all the noise or sometimes the hallways stink due to the stink bombs, there are many students in the cafeteria and we didn't even have a seat and the students said, I thought they were going to let us go home. Instead, we were in the cafeteria for more than four hours doing nothing. I wanted to go to class because I don't like spending time in the cafeteria because other people talk a lot and joke and I couldn't concentrate. I'd rather be at home than stay at school doing nothing or we could go into school later in the day just to attend the remaining classes. The students said, I didn't like that they put us doing the access test on the last week of the term two. We had a lot of work to do in those two days, but we stayed in the cafeteria without any orientation from our teachers. This thing was not organized and lastly, it was a bad feeling ever. They were supposed to call the houses to the parents know about the test and should have had more teachers to stay with the students in the class. They didn't call my house to let my parents know about the test. Thank you.
Speaker 1 (08:47):
Liz Corbett. Liz Corbett, please.
Speaker 6 (08:59):
Good evening. Members of the school committee and community members. My name is Liz Corbett and I've had the opportunity to teach ESL at Brockton High School since 2014. I'm here to speak tonight about the state of the school of the remaining 3000 students who want to do the right thing. Brockton High has posters all over the school building which reference the values of rigor, relationships, and relevance. What is the relevance of relationships on academic rigor? A 2009 study from the Journal of Effective Schools found that school safety is a precursor for student achievement. There will be no 90% in five years without increased safety. At Brockton High School, this same study referred to research done as early as 1999, which found schools with higher eighth grade math and reading scores have less school violence. How can we build these relationships with class sizes as high as 60? In the Brockton High School bilingual department class sizes continue to grow as the year progresses with more students arriving at Brockton High every week. DSI states the student teacher ratio of Brockton High is 15 to one.
My smallest class size is 25 DSI counts. Our school enrollment at 3,586 students, we had well over a thousand students take the annual test for English language learners access test at Brockton High last week, DESI reports that 38% of grade nine English language learners passed all their classes. That means that 62% of English language learners grade nine English language learners failed at least one course. We as teachers cannot build the relationships that create rigor with continually increasing class sizes. As one teacher put it, the threshold for unacceptable behavior gets higher with more students. I think back to the words of my mentor, catch them being good. I do my very best to focus on the good every day at Brockton High. This is not enough. A 2017 study from school Psychology Review found that perceptions of safety were also significantly related to teacher burnout. For BHS, this will mean more students in the cafeteria class after class creating new safety concerns yet again. In closing, I offer suggestion from this 2017 study. Schools need to regularly assess staff perceptions of safety and identify ways to create where neither students nor staff worry about their physical or emotional safety and security. Thank you.
Speaker 7 (12:06):
Joe Campbell, please, Joe Campbell.
Speaker 2 (12:08):
Speaker 8 (12:19):
Chair Sullivan School community members acting superintendent Dr. Cobbs Rockland, public schools administrators, staff, our local CBA units and the parents and the public of the city of Brockton. Thank you for this time. I'm here to speak tonight to the state legislation so everybody can breathe responsible for change.
Public schools across this great commonwealth, affluent or urban understand the need to work to mitigate bad student behavior. However, current restrictive laws are causing so much harm that it has, is and will continue impacting students that want to learn and staff that want to teach, and those of us that want to support chapter 71, section 37 H three quarter suspensions and progressive discipline along with Desi's Regulation 2 22 advisory on student discipline projects. An edict and practice that is antiquated and not applicable to all students if applicable in any beneficial way whatsoever. Binding the hands of administration to do what's right by the student's populace that are here to learn only perpetuates a grave problem. An immediate call to action is necessary and warranted to make this change for our support staff, educators and administration, state legislators, commissioner Riley from DESI move on this now to repair the significant damage these next years will experience. Move on this now so those in attendance today, here tonight can make a change immediately. Thank you. Thank you, Joe.
Speaker 1 (00:05):
Morgan Thatcher. Morgan Thatcher, please. Evening,
Speaker 2 (00:32):
Speaker 3 (00:34):
My name is Morgan Thatcher. I'm an proud alumni current teacher and former floor teacher at BHS and a parent of A BPS student. The word that comes to mind when I think of Brockton High, our school systems school committee in our city is distrust. I show up every day, do my job, try to help people the best I can and build relationships with my students. Even those not in my class. I met daily with behavior that is uncalled for and inappropriate, but that's not why I'm here because everyone who works in the building knows what it's like to walk the hallways and you have been told countless times and you don't listen. I'm here because we've told you and you continue to come here and gaslight us and act. If everything is great, we can't even trust you to communicate with us. Honestly, the information is either withheld completely or worse. We are lied to. We were told not to believe rumors, but the so-called rumors, tell me more about what I'm walking into every day than the people I work for. I wouldn't need to rely on rumors if anyone in the district was transparent about the status of my safety. We are too busy covering things up in the district. That's how we got here. Everyone is just worried about myself themselves. So let me uncover a few things for you. Every morning our students walked through metal detectors
That only detect large weapons, so the four inch pocket knife I found last year in a girl's purse looking for a vape goes completely undetected. When I asked about the metal detectors, I was told they were too sensitive, so they had to turn them down. So short answer, you can shoot me, you can't shoot me, but stabbing me is fair game. We changed the software for a check-in in the last two years, so now we only use Infinite Campus. So when John Doe is suspended for fighting, but he decides to come into school anyways, he literally can walk in the door, scan his id, and if the person who's doing check-in doesn't know John Doe, he walks in the building and rome's free. By the way, he has unexcused absence for every period of the day so he can just be in the hallway, probably assaulting somebody else.
The school committee sat and spoke about teacher absent how to sub and how drastically it's improved and teachers are no longer absent. That's not true. We just have teachers subbing for on their preps along with normal building subs. It is a hostile work environment and people have to stay home for their mental health. On the day of the Abigail Adams scholarship meetings, when school committee walked through the caf, a member said, we only saw one class size in the cafeteria. TAs teachers were actually asked to close the partitions to create a facade that there weren't that many students in the cafeteria. I legit have a student who regularly attends the school committee meetings that looked at me in class and said he didn't want to come anymore because he said he's never seen a group of adults act so immaturely.
We teachers show up every day, even though our safety is not guaranteed. We teach our classes, do our jobs, and try to maintain some sort of structure. Yet we're continuously met with lies withheld information, or better yet, a group of out of touch administrators come in and tell the city that everything's great because they were in the room. Your time is up with 12 AP students when teachers are being salted in the hallway. If you keep ignoring our cries and for help, you're going to continue to lose teachers. You want us to be a team. You want us to help make it better. The least you can do is be honest and maybe we can start trusting you again.
Speaker 1 (04:08):
Heather Rigi. Heather Rigi, please.
Speaker 4 (04:33):
School committee mayor. Superintendent. Thank you for hearing me tonight.
Thank you. My name's Heather Riggi. Hopefully I look a little familiar to you. I was here two months ago speaking about some of my concerns at the high school. This is my fifth year as a guidance counselor, my 12th year as a BPS employee, and I'm a proud 97 graduate of Brockton High School. As I mentioned, I was here two months ago speaking to you about my concerns. I'm here again because sadly, not much has changed. First, let me reiterate that my statement tonight is mine and mine alone and comes from my personal experience, not hearsay or rumor. We have a group, as I said before, of really hardworking administrators, but they were again, given an impossible job that has been made more challenging by the school's changing leadership. I'm very optimistic about our new principal, but I'm also seasoned enough in this district to know that it takes more than just one principal to solve the problems we continue to face at Brockton High School.
Last time I was here, this is what I shared with you in terms of my observations. Marijuana and vaping are a constant presence inside and outside the building dangerously high mental and emotional exhaustion of staff members from feeling unsafe, unheard and unsupported, large classrooms and counselor caseloads for a post that are just unrealistic for a post pandemic reality. Many students that are disrespecting staff not only using their words but also their physical presence as an individual or a group of students to intimidate us. Students wandering in the hallways, creating distractions, disrupting learning, students refusing to stop when they're asked nicely, respectfully by an adult and or just running away. When you ask them to stop students cutting class and then just really using the high school as a social opportunity more than a place of learning, there is no cell phone or dress code enforcement.
The bathrooms remain locked because it's too unsafe to keep them unlocked. Only a select few are open and students must walk further away from their classroom to access them, thus leading to more time outside the classroom. There's no corrective action plan in place for attendance. There's no enforceable cell phone policy, and I could just repeat so much of what you've already heard. Yes, Brockton High has many wonderful students. It is for those students and the educators like me who love the high school, but find it increasingly harder to remain there that I come to you again tonight with these same concerns. Safety at BHS starts with students being inside the classroom and held accountable to enforceable behavior policies. This cannot wait. This needs to be urgent in your minds. We have to make changes and we have to make them now. I don't want to come back in two months and say the same thing again. Thank you.
Speaker 1 (07:53):
Sherry Mazzoli, please. Sherry Mazzoli.
Speaker 5 (08:24):
I had like to thank everyone for hearing me tonight. My name is Sherry Mazzoli. I'm an administrative assistant in the Red House at Brockton High School. This is my experience. I'm tired of the chaos at BHS. I'm tired of seeing students, friends, colleagues, and myself get hurt because of fights that occur daily. Some days, I'd actually say most days there are multiple fights in the day.
Many of the fights require nurses to be called to the scene or closest classroom or office to the location of the fight. A couple of weeks ago, I was caught up in the crowd. I was caught up in the crowd as I was trying to call for help in a fight. I was out in the hallway outside of my office on the second floor in red. I heard a commotion down the hallway. I stepped over so I could look to see where the fight was happening so that I could accurately call for help. The crowd came down the hall so quickly. Quickly that I got swept up. Not by the students fighting, but by the students that were rushing to watch and video the fight. I was pushed into a locker. I was then pushed into a wall and stepped on before my boss could see me and grab me and pull me out into a classroom. We are in chaos. We need help. I did go home that day after going to the nurse's office. It wasn't so much as for the physical trauma as the emotional trauma. I am now afraid to be in my office on the second floor. I do not like being in the hallways. If I see a large group, a large group, if I see a rowdy crowd, I get very nervous and look for the nearest exit.
Today, there was another fight. I heard the helplessness in my boss's voice on the radio because he saw it happen. He was in red. He could see it through the windows. It happened to be in the airway in yellow by the Jim Overpasses. He couldn't get there and couldn't get help there fast enough.
Aside from the fights, let's talk about the security of our doors. Nobody is there watching them. Students let people in left and right. We can't control it. We are constantly, can you check the camera for this time? Can you check the camera at that time? See who's in the building. We never know. All of those people coming in are not going through security checks. We have no idea who they are or what they're bringing in. It is making the building even more unsafe than the fights. Unfortunately, staff now feels that it's only a matter of time Before someone dies in our hallway, something needs to be done. Thank you,
Speaker 2 (11:56):
Speaker 1 (00:09):
Cliff Canavan, please. Cliff Canavan.
Speaker 2 (00:26):
Speaker 3 (00:28):
Speaker 2 (00:28):
Is a little bit strange for me to come up here and do this, but I felt a lot better as I looked around the room at all the fantastic colleagues I've worked with for the last 22 years, and as I look around at a lot of these colleagues, I realize how many of them have also taught their own children, and even on the school committee, I've had several school committee members, children in my classes or I've coached them. Even some of our police officers that are here tonight, I've either coached with or I actually taught them when they were in my class. I was born and raised in Brockton on the east side. I graduated from Brockton High School in 1991. I have spent 22 years dedicating my life to this place I've coached for 20 years. I spent six days a week at Brockton High School, almost the entire school year, and not just from seven 20 to two 30, but from about 7:00 AM till about 6:00 PM every day during the week, plus all day on Saturdays. That's my level of dedication, and now I get nervous when I go to work. I get worried about my fellow colleagues getting injured. I had my frigging arm broken last year,
And I knew it was going to happen. I called for help. I called the police. We don't have a school dispatch, police office number to call anymore. We don't have an administrative office that we can call that'll answer the phone most of the time during the day, but certainly not. After two 30, I was helpless and I called the Brockton Police to dispatch an officer over to where this was happening and nobody came. So when the fight happened and I finally got over there to break it up, there was a girl on the ground unconscious getting kicked in the head repeatedly. So I took the aggressive girl and started to pull her aside, and then I got attacked from behind by a third person and had my arm broken.
Even after my arm was broken, I still forced the rest of those kids to get out of that area, and then I made sure the other two kids that were involved in getting beat up were okay and had medical treatment before. I then let the administrators know that my arm's broken. I got to go to the hospital now because my focus was on those kids' safety. Where's the focus on hours? The day before this happened, I in my office and I had a conversation with several of my colleagues talking about how horrific it has been and how one of these days, and sometime soon, somebody's going to get seriously injured or God forbid killed. Little did I know that I was talking about myself because less than 24 hours later, I had my arm broken both bones. I did physical therapy over 75 hours, and then I still had to have corrective surgery in September to fix it.
It was my left arm. I am permanently disabled in my left hand for full range of motion because of this injury. I'm sorry, your time is up. We've been avoided. You need to hear what we're saying. You need to take it to heart. We have one of the largest teacher shortages in I think probably recorded history at this point. If you don't fix things over the next several months that in June you're going to see a mass exodus of all of our young, very talented and very dedicated teachers that are five years or less because the grass is greener anywhere else right now. Thank you.
Speaker 1 (04:15):
Marty Oli, please. Marty Oli.
Speaker 4 (04:22):
Need a shorter podium?
Good evening. Dr. Cobbs, Mr. Mayor, vice chair school committee members, fellow staff, visitors, students. Lydia, great job. I'm going to be very honest with you. I'm not really here for myself because as a guidance counselor at the high school, I'm insulated from a lot of what really happens there, but to see what the teachers go through and the students go through regularly prompted me to say something. The last time I was here was to recognize members of the New five 60 Club of which one of my kids is a member. Our two school aged boys have flourished in Brockton schools. We love the principals at the Kennedy, the Angelo, the teachers. They've had a wonderful, wonderful experience in Brockton schools. But a couple of years ago, my wife and I decided that once our kids reach middle school age, we are not sending them to Brockton schools. However, that needs to happen. My wife did tell me, please don't get fired tonight
When I'm asked by people outside of Brockton in Brockton, what's going on at Brockton High? Is it really as bad as they say? As we hear and I say, no, it's much, much worse. The reason that it's so much worse is because a climate of disrespect, permissiveness caving to pressure and mixed and inconsistent messages has been allowed so long that it is the new normal at Brockton High School. It is the culture of BHS. So what does this new normal look, you've heard a lot of it already. You've heard that students wander recently. You heard that it's a couple hundred kids, a hundred. It's not. That's very incorrect. It's hundreds and hundreds of students at any given moment of the day every period of the day during class time. This was not dealt with correctly years ago. It's simply normal for students to do this.
At this point. When parents find out their child has been skipping classes, they ask, well, why am I just learning this? And the answer to that is we stopped putting them in for cuts in November. They got free reign to walk anywhere they want. Therefore, there's no real consequence to them skipping class. Students simply leave the building. There was nothing to stop them. If you park by Belmont Street near McDonald's fifth period of each day, you'll see streams of students simply walking off campus out of the building as if they were seniors leaving at the last period of the day. They're not. They're freshmen, they're sophomores, they're juniors. Students, and potentially non-students are led into the building regularly by other students. We are all, for intents and purposes, an open campus teachers administration. Staff are sworn at, shoved, met with a staggering level of disrespect that most people, I would hope would not even show toward their worst enemy. Violence is commonplace. This violence between students often causes injury to staff, concussions, et cetera. The tragedy is that this was avoidable. I'm going to have to skip ahead a little bit. You owe it to the students who deserve a safe education and a safe environment. You owe it to the staff, you owe it to people like Officer Vaughn who should have been shown. The benefit of the doubt are the teachers who have been not shown the benefit of the doubt and put on leave. I'm sorry, your time is up. Thank you.
Speaker 1 (07:47):
Sam Gordon. Sam Gordon, please.
Speaker 5 (08:03):
Hello. You can hear me? Everyone good? Yes. Okay. My name is Samantha Gordon, proud graduate oh seven. It's important to note I grew up here. I don't scare easy. Okay. I teach students with disabilities in a substantially separate classroom with the help of a para and a 1 28. I support students in every area of the building, the gym, the cafeteria, the hallways. Three things happened to me just yesterday. I need to tell you about first waiting for the male students outside the bathroom. There were 10 students skipping class, just right there. They began to push each other, run up and down the hallway. I asked 'em to go to class, completely ignored. I asked them Go anywhere. Anywhere else, nothing. So at this time, what am I supposed to do? Second, I'm the teacher of 11 students with disabilities. There are 14 substantially separate classrooms at the high school.
We are supporting students with significant social emotional behavior, cognitive disabilities. These classrooms are overcrowded. We deal with different things in our classrooms, but these are the students with the most needs. Third, there was a fire alarm. It was rumored to be pulled. I don't know. My students very technology driven, very schedule driven. So at the end of the day, they get 15 minutes on the computer. During the alarm, my student became very dysregulated and began hitting his head on the floor. I noticed nine hits of his head to the floor. He was taken out by school police, seen by paramedics, treated by paramedics outside of the building. So now to the point I'm trying to make, students don't have consequences for their behavior. They wander. They skip class, they hang out in bathrooms. Ignore teachers. Teachers are afraid to intervene. They're verbally assaulted, they're injured.
They are put on administrative leave and under investigation, because students have more rights than teachers do at this moment in time, teachers do not want to be injured and lose their licenses and livelihood. This is a job and we do not deserve this treatment. Bathrooms, they're locked and overcrowded or dangerous. It's just a terrible situation. Years ago, we had a life skills bathroom. Unfortunately, it was taken away. Now that's 14 classes that don't have that. We have two single stall gender neutral bathrooms that are unlocked. However, the lines get long because every student wants to use this bathroom because it is safe. One stall. Now, because of the nature of the bathroom, I had to remove independence from my students because they cannot go into the bathroom safely by themselves. I now have to walk them. They have to be with a staff escorted. Additionally, the special education department was restructured this year, district-wide.
We do not have a building-based special education administrator. The administration is new at the high school. They are not experienced working with our students, so administration has limited understanding of what we do. Teachers have limited understanding of where we're supposed to go. However, I do invite any of you to come to my classroom at the high school. We are open door policy. If you want to come in, please do so. I end with this. The administration is trying. We are all trying, but we are not. Okay, so what are you going to do now? What is being done for student safety? What is being done for teacher safety? What is being done for the students with special needs? Thank you.
Speaker 1 (11:22):
Mara Tava, please. Mara, please.
Speaker 5 (11:43):
Hi, Amara. I go by Shaara really, but that's just my little nickname. Anyways, I'm a senior at Brockton High and I want to address the concerns about BH. It seems our voices aren't heard enough and issues raised by teachers and students in meetings are often overlooked. I as a student, will love to see action instead of words. Clear communication and a plan for action must be communicated for everyone to have consistent follow-up and then stick with it. We are the future and what other people look forward to. We need to be pointed in the right direction, and we deserve the right support system. I know great teachers that have helped me tremendously. Every student needs support and guidance of trusted teachers that care, and I appreciate the ones that do and try their best every day. I see you and I appreciate you. I know. Sorry. We must strengthen the support system and distinguish those that are only there to disrupt and impede teaching, learning, and growth. Those that are there to hurt others and keep me and others from getting a good education need to be removed. I'm hoping that we change this and improve as a community to get BHS to be better and elevate student standards and teaching standards. Either take action or watch the rest of BHS fall.