School fights promoted online raise concerns in Montgomery County
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. – School brawls are ubiquitous as students return to class this year. Now, a concerned parent is sharing an Instagram page with FOX 5 that appears to be promoting and celebrating such incidents at Francis Scott Key Middle School.
A spokesperson for Montgomery County Schools told FOX 5 they were aware but had yet to see the videos.
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The page displays at least nine different combat videos. FOX 5 even saw a recording of an “interview” shared on Instagram with a “fighter”.
Several parents told FOX 5 that they had heard of fights at school but were unaware of the social media account.
“Unfortunately, when they don’t really have a lot of mentors and they don’t have some sort of oversight that controls them most of the time, they’re just acting like jerks,” said parent Pow Srikahorn, who has told FOX 5 that he is concerned that there are no police there. Srikahorn told FOX 5 that he confirmed the story’s validity with his child and some of the students he teaches martial arts to.
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Another parent who asked not to be identified told FOX 5 he was aware of the fighting and knew that children had posted videos of themselves taking on the TikTok “Devious Licks” challenge. He was surprised to be shown the story.
“It’s just ridiculous. The school needs to end it as soon as possible because it will get out of hand,” the anonymous father said.
Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando has been tagged in some of the account’s posts. The board member led the way by removing school resource officers from school buildings this year. He told FOX 5 that MCPS was working on hiring around 50 social workers that the council pushed to fund.
“Is it so wrong to wait until everything is in place before changes are made with school resource managers?” Asked FOX 5.
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“Again – I think it’s just that the premise of the question is wrong. You suggest the fighting wouldn’t have happened if an officer wasn’t in a building with 3,000 students and a high school and not in colleges, “said the board member, who also said:” We don’t have enough school psychologists. We don’t have enough social workers. So you see steps taken but we could take – one of the measures to be taken was to reduce the immediate damage in the context of arrests and disproportionate trauma in high school. “
Parents told FOX 5 of school fights all over the district, not just Francis Scott Key Middle School.
A woman who identified herself as the mother-in-law of a college boy told FOX 5 that the problem for her was not ORS.
“This is where technology has brought us today and kids with cell phones have brought us today. I don’t think it’s fair or appropriate,” she said.
FOX 5 also asked MCPS specific questions about combat report requirements, how many security guards there are at the school and in the school district, how many times the police have been called to the school or to respond to schools in general, as well as how many mental health workers are present at MCPS and Francis Scott Key Middle School.
Here is the full answer from MCPS:
Staff and students return to school in person after more than 18 months. We all need to reestablish relationships and get used to going to school in a COVID-19 environment.
We are aware of the proceeding at Francis Scott Key Middle School, but were unable to review the videos online.
The sad truth is that altercations in schools do happen and this is true for MCPS and other schools nationwide. MCPS is committed to ensuring that our students feel safe, valued and respected in our schools. When a serious incident occurs, our protocol is to follow the student code of conduct and administer disciplinary action if necessary, but this is not the first tool we use. Our schools implement restorative practices to resolve these issues through post-conflict mediation and resolution programs and to bring all parties to a mutual understanding that incorporates trust and respect.
Montgomery County Community Engagement Officers and Police are always available if needed and per our Memorandum of Understanding, they are just a phone call away when needed. School security personnel are assigned to schools and, in this case, helped defuse the situation.
Cases not requiring medical attention are handled at the school level, and cases requiring medical or police care are reported to the central office. These practices are prescribed in the long-standing policy of MCPS.
We have confirmed with Montgomery County Police they have responded to at least 16 assault calls for MCPS so far this year. Police must now be called if an incident includes a 9-1-1 call for an ambulance – or if the school system calls the police.
“The police department is committed to ensuring the safety of students, staff and students in schools,” said Captain Flynn, who heads the community engagement division. Captain Flynn commended the Acting Superintendent of MCPS for scheduling regular meetings with the school system and the police so that the two entities communicate better with each other.
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Captain Flynn also said police were concerned about several specific “TikTok” challenges scheduled for October.
The 2018-2019 school year was the last full school year before the interruptions of the COVID19 pandemic. MCPS data shows that 26 incidents of “physical assault / attack” and 11 combat incidents were reported in that year at county colleges.
County high schools saw 52 of these assaults and nine combat incidents. Police did not respond to all reported incidents.
The 2019-2020 school year saw 30 incidents of “physical assault / attack” and 20 combat incidents reported across all high schools. Colleges reported 29 incidents of “physical assault / attack” and eight combat incidents. The police also did not respond to all.