Massachusetts School Officials Want to Deploy National Guard to End Violence at High School

Students are engaging in daily brawls, doing drugs, and even having sex in empty classrooms, according to one teacher.
Massachusetts School Officials Want to Deploy National Guard to End Violence at High School
Boston Marathon Race Director Dave McGillivray (L) talks to member of the Massachusetts National Guard before the start the 125th running of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., early on Oct. 11, 2021. (Jennifer McDermott/AP Photo)
Allan Stein

Four school committee members in Brockton, Massachusetts, are calling on the National Guard to restore order to the city’s embattled high school following reports of daily fistfights, rampant drug use, and students having sex in empty classrooms.

“Over the past few months, our high school has experienced a disturbing increase in incidents related to violence, security concerns, and substance abuse,” committee members Joyce Asack, Tony Rodrigues, Ana Oliver, and Claudio Gomes wrote in a Feb. 15 letter to the mayor and school committee chairman.

“The situation has reached a critical point; more recently, we had an alarming 35 teachers absent, underscoring the severity of the challenges we are facing.”

The school officials described the situation as a “matter of the utmost urgency” that involves the safety and well-being of the students, school, and community.

“Instances of students wandering the halls, engaging in altercations, and causing disruptions in classrooms have become alarmingly frequent,” the letter read. “These incidents are not only undermining the learning environment but are also jeopardizing the integrity of the state-wide testing process.”

As reported in the Brockton Enterprise, one Brockton High School (BHS) teacher said at an emergency committee meeting this month that students are having sex, doing drugs, and cutting classes in empty classrooms.

Three BHS students were stabbed on May 12, 2023, BHS reported.

Recognizing the “gravity of the situation,” the four committee members asked Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan to contact the governor with a request to deploy the National Guard in the school.

“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 committee members wrote.

‘Collaboration, Not Troops’

In a letter, the mayor responded by saying that he “does not support utilizing the Massachusetts National Guard at Brockton High School.”

“While we appreciate the suggestions put forth by four school committee members, we believe that such measures are not appropriate. Instead, we are committed to employing a collaborative approach that involves the entire community, including parents, students, educators, and law enforcement, to tackle these challenges head-on,” Mr. Sullivan wrote.

“We understand the concerns and fears that these incidents have generated among students, parents, and staff, and we want to reassure everyone that we are actively addressing them. We urge the community to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or concerns to the authorities promptly.”

At a videotaped press conference, Mr. Rodrigues said deploying troops would be a positive step toward restoring order and stability at the high school in the wake of a budget deficit that “created this mess.”

The school officials pointed to the successful deployment of the National Guard to distribute COVID-19 injections during the pandemic.

The guardsmen would be at the school not in a military capacity but as substitute teachers and hall monitors, Mr. Rodrigues said.

“It’s not just the high school. It also includes our middle schools and elementary schools across the district. Brockton is not the only community that is dealing with violence. It is across the commonwealth,” Mr. Rodriguez told the media.

In May 2023, the city laid off 130 certified school district staff amid a $14 million fiscal 2023 budget deficit, teacher shortages, and declining enrollment.

Brockton, a South Shore city with more than 105,000 residents, is the fifth-largest school district in Massachusetts, with nearly 15,000 students. Brockton High, with 3,586 students, has the state’s largest enrollment, according to state education data.

The city’s population is 27.3 percent white, 50.9 percent African American, and 11.9 percent Hispanic and Latino.

Laura Berry, the Massachusetts National Guard’s deputy public affairs officer, directed all questions pertaining to the Brockton School Committee’s request to the governor’s press office.

The Epoch Times reached out to Gov. Maura Healey, a Democrat, seeking comment but received none by press time.

“We understand the gravity of these concerns and want to assure the public that the safety and well-being of our students and teachers remain our top priority,” Mr. Sullivan wrote.

“We need to give our administrators the tools to keep order in the school, including amending certain state rules and regulations that currently hamper these efforts.

“National Guard soldiers are not the answer.”