Piedmont mother wants son transferred over gang at school

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Police say if your child goes to school in Winston-Salem, he or she likely shares a hallway with a gang member. In the case of one Winston-Salem teen, the interaction didn't stop there.

Donna Combs is an employee with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. Her son, she says, is a student at North Forsyth High School.

"Approximately five gang members were harassing him daily at school. Following him to class, throughout the hallways," said Combs.

The gang, according to police, is called the “Brick Squad,” a hybrid gang based off of the Bloods. Combs says members of the gang followed her son off school grounds, drove beside him and, according to police records, "pointed a finger out of the door in the fashion of a gun".

"I think that's the day that he realized, 'Oh okay. This is real,'" said Combs.

Combs says her son didn't want to make a big deal of it, so he didn't tell her. However, some other students in the neighborhood spoke up.

"They came to me and said 'The Brick Squad has put a tag on your son's head,'" said Combs.

She wondered what exactly a "tag" meant; a question which was soon answered when officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department came to conduct an investigation.

"A tag was, they're [going to] kill him. That's what that means, a tag," said Combs.

Combs said she filed a request with the school system, asking to have her son moved from North Forsyth to Reagan High School. She claims school officials told her that her son could move to Mount Tabor High School instead. However, Combs says Mount Tabor has a similar gang problem.

"I'm not asking for a kidney. I'm asking for the school system to do what they are supposed to do, and that is ensure my child's safety and his educational needs. They're failing miserably," said Combs.

School officials say they cannot let students and/or parents decide on a school of their choosing. They say they have a window each spring, where they can request to be in certain schools and they base staffing off of that. Combs said she learned of the threats after that window had closed.

"I'm not going to give up. If it means I lose my job, I'm a mom first, I'm not giving up," said Combs.

School officials say they have a strict gang policy and a bilingual staff member who focuses exclusively on gang related activity.

Winston-Salem police say they believe the gang situation in schools has improved in recent years.


    • Urban Shepherd

      What you need is some Guardian Angels to walk the Hallways of the schools. You wouldn’t have to pay.

  • L

    It’s nothing more than a pitiful shame to go to “those in authority ” to be turned away cause you are not some one’s choice. We people better get back to God bottom line…..

  • L

    Read Matthew. 24 , these are the beginning of sorrow, a life worth nothing anymore. I got 4 grand children all 4 and under, I won’t be fearful for them cause i know I what I believe, but your children want to live, do something about it go to the one that can change people mind, by giving the a change of heart and Mind to do right

  • Jesus Effing. Christ

    Easy Fix, Just remove any and all known gang members from the system. Teach only those who want to learn.

  • ndoosh

    This has nothing to do with the public or private schools. No matter what school you go to there are going to be gangs, especially in Winston. I went to school on the south side and hurt of brick squad, but this gag isn’t all that scary. Its the kids that are the problem, its the parents who don’t take time to take care of their kids so they grow up in gangs. Its society itself

    • John

      I don’t think that gangs are much of a problem in private schools. That is not to say that all private school kids are angels, but a private school has the advantage in that it can just kick a student out if they do something the school doesn’t like. Public schools don’t usually have that luxury.

    • CC

      I went to a private high school. There are no gangs in private schools. I’m not sure where you got that from.

  • dewey

    LOL…Brick Squad…..they stole their name from a record label..if they were that dangerous, they must be criminal masterminds or the WSPD is grossly negligent….not a lot about these boys in the news

  • Richard Denny

    WSPD or Forsyth County Sheriff should be big “WAKE UP”. Because we noticed some gangs began to hide or refused show true where come from. Reason why they don’t want law enforcement to know who is gangs. That cruel bullying to other students who are not join any gangs group. We need change at school and do not neglected or ignored because school policy already have strict follow by rules. If Winston-Salem Forsyth School failed or violation then students’ parents CAN sue for that school failed follows rules by violation. We need keep clean and safe environment in school ground.

  • SubBoethio

    A lot of gang members do want to learn, and have just as much right to an education as anyone else in the state (not to mention due process). I wholeheartedly agree that students who harass other students should be disciplined. However, it’s not clear to me based strictly on the information in this article what more WSFCS can do in this case. The student who was harassed was offered a transfer to another school, and the police have been involved. Much of the harassment outlined in the article occurred outside of school.

  • Lauren

    So sad. When I went to west Forsyth we never really experienced any problems. So sad that the school system has been falling off the tracks. Which I can’t say I’m surprised. Send all the gang members to indepence or carver. Leave the good schools for those that want to learn. The problem schools should just have all the kids that don’t care. And sorry if you are in a gang you don’t care about your education.

    • SubBoethio

      Lauren, you’re simply wrong when you say that being in a gang indicates that a person doesn’t care about their education. There are a number of reasons why people join gangs. Certainly some gang members choose to join simply because they like violence or power, but others join because they do not feel that they can safely refuse, or because membership in the gang protects members of their family from violence. I am a former teacher, and I taught many gang members who were bright and serious about their studies. Though their involvement in gangs troubled me, and though I and a number of my colleagues encouraged them to get out of gangs, I could never question their commitment to learning. They did all that I asked of them and more in class and behaved impeccably. I also taught gang members who caused major problems in my classroom and school, so I’m not claiming that all gang members are saints. They do not all deserve, however, to be painted with the same brush.

      I’ve never faced pressure to join a gang because I was fortunate enough to grow up in a community where they were not active. I’d like to think that if I had been pressured I would have resisted, but I’m not sure that I could have done so. The peer pressure associated with gang membership is intense, and (as I pointed out in my previous post) it is levied within the neighborhood and often within the home in addition to at school. Rather than merely condemning all gang members for their involvement in gangs, it seems wise to also question why gangs can exist and (apparently) thrive in Winston-Salem. Of course gang members bear responsibility for their involvement in gangs, and when they intimidate and harass others there need to be stern consequences for their actions. However, this needs to be balanced by a critical examination of why gangs appeal to young people in the first place.

      Perhaps it would also be worthwhile to ask whether or not it is fair to describe a school as a “problem school” and to advocate using it as a repository for “kids who don’t care.” I’m not sure that that course of action does justice to students already at those schools, or to their communities.

    • Noel

      I’m sorry Lauren but I wasn’t aware that carver is an alternative school. As a graduate of Mount Tabor I will say that the students are not better than those that attended carver nor do I see a difference in the education quality. In fact students at tabor could be just as worse except they don’t make the news as much nor is the school located in a predominantly black neighborhood. But for you to just throw out Carver in a sentence with a known alternative school is completely disrespectful and undermines all that is taught there.

      • Mya

        Actually mount tabor is really bad too.. Should know because I move from a different state to the mount tabor area. Tbh all Forsyth school art not good to go to they all have a lot of problems

    • Tatayana

      I’ve been to Carver, stayed in the environment, and they aren’t a bad school. As many others said, Gangs are everywhere, not just at “Bad Schools” as you so clearly stated. I know of plenty of schools who have some of the worse gangs and things happening there, but it never gets put out onto the news and no when ends up knowing about it. So you might want to see more into things before commenting on any public schools.

    • Megan Yount

      im sorry but you are mistaken in making that comment *send them to independence*!!!!! not all the kids who ever went to independence were bad! (nor were all of em gang members) i happened o go there myself (and west forsyth too)! another mistake is that Independence has been shut down since 2003. i had to go back to west (losing my chance to graduate) because they were closing my school down. i got more homework done @ IHS than i could get done @ WF~ because it wasnt given (@ IHS), i asked for my homework but it wasnt required. (whereas @ WF it was required regardless of the amount to be done in one night which sometimes was too much) and i didnt care for WF because its a rich (higher class acknowledged, lower poorer classes ignored) based school…. i couldnt thrive @ that school. i fell through the cracks because that school & its staff didnt notice i was struggling. maybe they could care less. i loved school & i love learning… i did fine when i was helped like i mattered. but now im just a statistic. i did great @ independence because there was more one on one with the teachers (smaller classes) and so my grades were better and i learned more efficiently. there was more to indepenence than *just a place to send bad kids* (not all were bad, some were recently relocated from elsewhere & just happened to be in that area…..they used to have a re-entry program) but the state chose to fund rich punk schools like west instead of keeping a school like IHS alive so that others may have a fighting chance instead of being left behind because for most, Independence was the school systems last ditch effort for those kids!!!! *smh* stop being so prejudiced! i happen to be grateful for having to go to that school when i did! i miss it too! shame on the state for claiming they couldnt afford it or its extra curricular activites when they can afford bs like new books for schools who arent even hurting for them, etc. also the city can destroy all of its strip clubs in order to help fund such schools! i mean cmon, education is more important! (sorry i got a lil bit off topic but still…. it upset me to hear judgement on a school you havent even been to. its kinda like the pitbull thing *smdh*)

    • Dr

      Lauren before submitting on a publicized arena I want you to utilize your spell check and do a little research. I believe you were attempting to say gang members belong at Carver and Independence High School not “indepence”. I am from Winston Salem and never heard of indepence so I am very confused. Your statement is horrendous and shows the lack of fundamental grammar you should have received at West Forsyth not west Forsyth. There are a lot of top notch individuals attending Carver High School and have graduated from there including myself. Please do not group gang affiliation and inappropriate behavior with Carver nor ever submit on an open forum without getting your facts right. I do believe this story was about a mother concerned with her son well being and the lack of concern she received from North Forsyth staff not Carver faculty therefore let’s stay on track and not stray on the issues at hand. Again you may want to obtain further education as your post does not say a lot about where you received your High School diploma.

  • i know it all

    MANNNNN that is NOT a gang. Its the name of a record label as mentioned above. “1017 Bricks squad” look it up…Its just some kids that THINK they are gangbangers, but when approached by REAL G’s they put that little chest back in. They are not gonna do anything but point fingers in the form of a gun just to scare some of you people. Stand up for yourselves and I PROMISE you wont be bothered anymore. These kids smell fear, but if u act just as tough, they will pass you by.

  • wsprogressiveshithole

    Hey media,

    Why dont you do something productive like posting the wanna be gang members names. WSPD will do nothing to these crooks unless they can catch them in the act. That is only if they dont pay the cops off.


    Remove the public bus stop outside of Mount Tabor. Stop bringing kids from bad areas; that have zero intention of bettering themselves to once good schools. I have been in the classrooms, they are only a distraction and annouyance to those that want to learn. There should be zero tolerance for anything that looks gang related and immediate action.

  • Beau Childress

    As a graduate of the WSFC district and proud Viking Alum I find this sad. The administration of the district and in each school can all but eliminate gang activity in the schools. They must work in conjunction with law enforcement and the community to do so. You may ask who is this guy, well I am a teacher and gang relations liaison in OKC. I work on our southside where we have gang issues. I work in a school that was cleaned up in less than 2 years. See I can speak of this because my gang issues has been documented on Nation Geographic and had an hour long documentary done. I can say this because I choose to work with these kids day in and day out. Please Winston get a hold of this problem for your kids sake.

  • annonymous

    Well if the parents would take back the control over their kids and schools would quit teaching the kids to yell child abuse because their parent whip their hinny when the child needed it then the schools wouldn’t have such a problem because when the parents got called to the school to pick up their child because they were bulling another child and when the parents got the child home and put a leather or a good king hickory on their rear they would learn to leave other kids alone and have respect but instead the kids run the schools the home and everything else because the adults are scared of the kids come on its high time the adults take by over and do something………..

  • misunderstood

    I think WSFC school system has issues and the leadership isn’t good; parents take kids to fight and record so fights can be posted on social networks. gangs are everywhere but at the same time when a parent is concerned about his/her kid the school system always fails to help you out you have to jump through loops just for someone to pay attention. They really dont start caring until they sending flowers to your childs funeral I hate WSFC system I have two teenagers left in it and cant wait until they graduate once my oldest son finish school I am sending my baby boy to my mothers out of state so he will in school with his family.

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