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MMSD sticking behind safety protocol plan after videos of fights spread

MMSD says they are working with students and families involved in a fight that happened inside a classroom at Madison East High School.
Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:13 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Video is spreading online of what appears to be a number of fights happening on the Madison East High School campus, one assault happening inside a classroom. The widely circulating videos are now causing parents to wonder if their kids are safe in school.

A Madison mom says her son is a victim in one of the fights. She believes the school should be doing more to help.

“The school did not call me, the school did not call my husband, the school did not call the police. I reached out to the school when I received a text from my son, says Madison East parent, Erin.

The Madison Metropolitan School District is calling that particular assault “unacceptable” saying they are working with students and families involved. A school district representative spoke exclusively with NBC15, defending its response to the assault.

“We believe in what we have going. Really actually the big difference is SRO’s. But we’ve been able to backfill by extra training for our security assistants who are in our high schools where their capabilities are enhanced, training staff, and our relationship with law enforcement has remained,” says MMSD Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Tim Lemonds.

For background, last year MMSD voted to get rid of School Resource Officers. They say they did this, in part, to support the social-emotional health of students who they say felt uncomfortable having a police officer in school. The new safety plan does not include SRO’s, instead, a Safety and Security Director along with school security assistants. It’s this new plan the parent of one student who was punched says is not working. The school district sees it differently.

“With every incident, every altercation or issue, what we have is an after action review of that event. And so our safety team will come together, and we will walk through the process of how we responded. And we will identify areas for improvement if there are. We believe in what we have going. The big difference is SROs. But we’ve been able to backfill by extra training for our security assistants who are in our high schools,” says Lemonds.

Lemonds says parents should know their kids will be safe when they send them to school in Madison.

“Our buildings are safe. Now will things happen? We hope not, and we are working to prevent them. But yes, there will be incidents. And with each one of these we learn something more. And with each one of these, we get better at how we respond. And we get better on our safety and security of the whole child. We have, not only teams of staff in our school insuring they are safe, we have community members coming forward we are working with. We have agencies outside the school district we are working with to try to get to some of these students who are struggling as they get back into school,” says Lemonds.

This concern stemming from a concern from a Madison mom. In one of those videos, you see a student hit multiple times while sitting in his classroom. A Madison Mom says the video shows her son being jumped by other students, sending him to the emergency room after.

The boy’s parent says the incident happened on September 22nd, days after another student threatened her son as his job off campus.

After the initial threat, she says her family contacted school officials. “The school assured us that on Wednesday they had talked to the threatening party. Had a stern conversation and guaranteed that he would be safe,” she said.

Shortly after arriving to class last Wednesday, she says two students ran into her son’s classroom and attacked him. “The school did not call me, the school did not call my husband, the school did not call police. I reached out to the school when I received a text from my son,” she said.

The mother says she doesn’t understand how a fight can happen in a classroom. Video of that fight and others showing highlights of several recent fights at Madison schools are circulating among students.

The videos also raise questions about district policy, and student safety, now that school resource officers are no longer in Madison schools. The mom says to her knowledge, the students responsible have not been punished at this time. Since the fight, the mother has pulled her son out of school indefinitely in fear of his safety. She says she filed a police report and is disappointed the district did not take the matter more seriously.

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