School Officials Say They Are Addressing Security Concerns At Burns School
By Jeff Cohen
November 15, 2010
Hartford board of education officials say they are increasing security at a neighborhood school, just weeks after a 12-year-old boy was scared enough for his safety that he brought a knife and a BB gun with him in his backpack. WNPR's Jeff Cohen was at a city council meeting on school security Monday and has this report.
Initial reports were that the boy was the victim of bullying at Burns School. Then there was word that he was the victim of a gang initiation ritual. And while school officials originally said the cause was a neighborhood fight involving people too old to be students at Burns, police now say the incident was about a female student.
Members of the city council have said they're concerned about school safety. Now, Burns parents like Christine Pasquarelli say they're concerned, too.
"I have been in the hallway and watched seventh and eighth grade classrooms empty into the hallway for full-blown mob brawls. I have walked into classrooms after they have been completely destroyed. Food fights in the cafeteria, all-out brawls that feed into the neighborhood afterwards."
Pasquarelli has a seventh grader at Burns.
"He is a good student, he doesn't even have so much as a disciplinary notice on his record and he is petrified to go to school. I am scared to send him there. You have students that are pushing and no one's pushing back and that school is now running on a mob mentality."
Sergio Lira is a seventh grader at Burns.
"It's like living in a cage where nobody around. Nobody to listen to you, nobody that you can see, nobody that you can talk."
Lira's father, also Sergio Lira, says he's taught his children the little he knows about fighting to protect themselves.
Lira says that if you don't get a handle on violence in schools like Burns, all of the educational, extracurricular, and parental effort won't amount to much more than empty words.
Hartford school administrator Alex Nardone was at the meeting in place of Superintendent Steven Adamowski. He says the schools have begun to address the problem at Burns by meeting with police and implementing a behavior plan.
"We came here from the schools knowing that we had a problem at Burns. We have already begun to address it so you don't have to convince us that we have to do something."
Nardone also said that Burns will have another school security officer. That officer starts today.