LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - Faculty and staff protested rising violence at Lawrence High School on the same day elected officials are set to hold an emergency meeting to address the frequent fights.
Members of the high school alongside Lawrence Mayor Kendrys Vasquez and concerned community members staged a walk-in just before the morning bell after more than 20 brawls erupted on campus in recent weeks, leaving teachers and staff injured and some students potentially facing charges.
Vasquez also called an emergency meeting of the City Council and School Committee at 7 p.m. Monday to discuss school safety and the future of the state’s control over Lawrence Public Schools.
“I have also invited the superintendent and the commissioner to participate at this meeting and hear your concerns,” he said.
Superintendent Cynthia Paris has blamed the recent violence on a tough adjustment upon returning to class after a year of remote learning.
She has brought more police on campus and adjusted students’ schedules in an effort to curb the fighting.
However, the Lawrence Teachers Union says more needs to be done to support students.
“The school department has failed to respond to the social and emotional needs of traumatized students,” said Kimberly Barry, president of the Lawrence Teachers Union. “We can’t just ignore the problems students bring to school with them and jump right back to testing them without any effort to rebuild a school community. They’re kids and we need to invest in staff and services that make them feel valued.”
Some parents are calling for Paris to resign, while others want an end to the state’s control over Lawrence schools.
“We’re a poor marginalized community. This is not the fault of the parents,” said School Committee member Joshua Alba. “This is the fault of the school committee and parents not having any say in how the district is running things.”
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