Faculty demand strict policy on school violence - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Faculty demand strict policy on school violence

by Michele Catahay

Guam - The issue of school violence has many in the community concerned about the safety and well being of students. Officials say it's an issue that cannot be solved at the school level.

A couple of weeks ago a riot broke out in the parking lot of George Washington High School in Mangilao. Six kids in total were involved in an incident that took place during the summertime and escalated on campus. GW Assistant Principal for Discipline Gaylene Cruz told KUAM News, "It's one in a long time, but that's also in regards to people who were fully aware of an outside incident during the summer, did nothing about it, and never told us to make sure it doesn't happen here. Well, it escalated to that - and so the consequences will be harsh for anyone resorting to school violence."

Cruz says there are peak seasons when schools start seeing more violence on campus. She says while they constantly encourage parents to actively get involve in the lives of their children, oftentimes the problem isn't addressed. She says the Guam Legislature should consider crafting policy to combat the issue.

"If students are involved in those kinds of behaviors [sic], removing them and putting them through a DAC hearing is not going to put them on an alternative edge; should not be the only alternative, or expulsion. There should be more charges filed. The Legislature needs to take a look at all our data. Look and see. If they can up with a law for alcoholism, maybe they can come up with a law for school violence. Because there should be zero tolerance," she explained.

Also agreeing there should be stricter laws is Southern High School principal James Petitte. He says parents should be held accountable, noting how his Santa Rita campus has seen a couple of riots since the school year began.  "I think that we need to take a closer look at how we adjudicate students or kids and how we hold their parents accountable for what happens on the school campus," he said.

"As parents, you need to get actively involved in what your kids do, as well. For example, if your kid comes home and says, ‘This kid is bullying me.'  I get parents that call me all the time. I deal with the issue right then and there so it doesn't escalate to school-level violence."

Petitte also recommends that lawmakers look at the numbers when it comes to violence and ensure they don't escalate into bigger problems, such as the case in 2006 of Southern High sophomore Jeromy Newby, who was a victim of campus violence and later died from injuries.

Petitte has said it's important the community come together on this issue.

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