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Mass. school board asks to deploy national guard at high school

“The National Guard’s expertise in crisis management and community support can offer a vital temporary intervention, allowing ... a long-term solution to be developed,” the school board members wrote

Editor’s note: Police1 reached out to the National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) for their perspective on this story. “This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever heard of a school board requesting school security help from the National Guard,” said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. “It’s difficult to imagine that a school climate could be allowed to get so bad that a school board would think sending in the National Guard would be the best solution. There are many less extreme ways that a school can reduce violence and improve its climate and culture. The best practices require the work of a multidisciplinary school safety team that includes educators, administrators, mental health professionals and carefully selected, specifically trained school resource officers.”

By Susannah Sudborough

BROCKTON, Mass. — Four Brockton School Committee members wrote Mayor Robert Sullivan last week to ask that the National Guard be deployed at Brockton High School to help get violent incidents and drug use at the school under control.

The letter, signed by Ward 2 member Claudio Gomes, Ward 3 member Ana Oliver, Ward 4 member Tony Rodrigues and Ward 6 member Joyce Asack, claims that, over the last few months, the school has experienced “a disturbing increase” in violence- and drug-related incidents. Incidents of students wandering the halls, getting in fights and causing classroom disruptions have become “alarmingly frequent,” they wrote.

“These incidents are not only undermining the learning environment but are also jeopardizing the integrity of the state wide testing process,” the school committee members wrote.

At the same time, Brockton High School is struggling to maintain adequate staffing levels, according to the school committee members. On one day recently, 35 teachers were absent simultaneously.

As a result, more students have been leaving the school without permission in recent weeks, and trespassers have been able to enter the school unauthorized, the school committee members wrote.

“These situations not only put the students and staff at risk but also undermines the overall safety of our community,” they wrote.

The letter served as a formal request that Sullivan reach out to Gov. Maura Healey and ask that the National Guard be deployed at Brockton High School to “assist in restoring order, ensuring the safety of all individuals on the school premises, and implementing measures to address the root causes of the issues we are facing,” the school committee members wrote.

“We understand the gravity of this request and the importance of collaboration between local and state authorities,” they wrote. “The National Guard’s expertise in crisis management and community support can offer a vital temporary intervention, allowing for a comprehensive, long-term solution to be developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.”

The letter was sent to the school district’s superintendent, the other school committee members and the city’s state legislators. It also requested an expedited meeting to discuss the issue.

In a statement, Sullivan said he responded to the letter and explained that only Healey has the power to activate the National Guard, according to WCVB. He reportedly told the school committee members he’d forward their request, but that he doesn’t support National Guard deployment at Brockton High School.

Brockton City Councilor-at-Large Winthrop Farwell, Jr. wrote on Facebook Saturday that he also does not support National Guard deployment at the school.

“Our faithful teachers (at all levels of the system) have experienced violence, injury and disruptions for years. Now, suddenly, the Guard is the answer?” he wrote. “I do NOT support this. Soldiers in military field uniforms aren’t the answer.”

Instead, school leaders should convene a committee of teachers from the high school to come up with solutions to these problems, Farwell suggested.

“We have the talent to create a positive learning atmosphere if we listen to our teaching staff. They know, they care, they can guide us to success,” he wrote.

A spokesperson for Healey said in a statement that they are in contact with Brockton officials about the issues at Brockton High School, according to WCVB.

Last May, five people were arrested in connection with a stabbing outside the school during which three people were injured. Two of the stabbing victims were students. A student was also stabbed at the school in 2022.

With an enrollment of 3,586 students, Brockton High School hosts more students than any other school in Massachusetts, according to state data. Even so, the district it is a part of is up against money problems.

At the beginning of this school year, city officials discovered that Brockton Public Schools had a $14 million budget deficit.


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