GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The Guilford County Schools’ superintendent said we’re seeing an increase in violence within the district.
Tuesday night, district leaders presented a plan to the board of education to curb that violence. One of their main concerns is making sure fights don’t break out at large sporting events. We’ve seen a couple of those this year at Dudley High School and Southern Guilford High School during football games. Part of the district’s new plan is to increase the number of staff at athletic events.
“We’ve seen these kinds of outside athletic events that take staff, that take manpower outside of work hours, and so compensating them to supervise is important and it’s something that we need to do. So we will increase the number of staff at these large athletic events and make sure they’re being compensated,” said Dr. Whitney Oakley.
There have been fights at football games, fights on campus between students and even some involving adults. These events prompted Guilford County Schools leaders to look at the county’s discipline data. Out-of-school suspensions were up more than 58% this year during August and September, compared to the 2019-2020 school year.
Leaders also looked at community trends, like Guilford County’s homicide rate, which increased 12% from 2019 to 2021. They said the community’s actions reflect what they’re seeing in our schools.
District leaders put together four new strategies to combat violence on campus. Part one is having more staff at games as we head into basketball season.
The district will also hire four new school safety specialists, as well as train administrators on a new anti-bullying program.
The last part of the plan is listening to students. On Thursday, district leaders will host a school safety summit and meet with more than 100 children to hear their suggestions on how to make schools safer.
Dr. Oakley emphasized this conversation is the first of many needed if they want to stop violence within our schools.
“To solve this crisis, the school system can’t do it by ourselves,” she said. “It’s going to have to be something we talk about across systems and across the community. We can’t just talk about this once. We can’t just talk about it when it’s convenient and I will transparently say this is the first time in at least four years that I can remember that we’ve looked at data around what’s happening.”
One board member asked Dr. Oakley if she’d considered having sporting events without fans if more fights break out. Dr. Oakley said she doesn’t think punishing everyone is the answer.
“Blanket not having fans at games is going to make things worse than better,” she said. “There have been a couple of cases where clearing the stands happened, needed to happen and sent a message.”