Questions remain over who started what, and why staff didn’t hear altercation
BY VOICE STAFF
The desire for social media notoriety may have trumped anti-bullying rules and the prospect of disciplinary penalties for a group of Grade 7 students at Glynn A. Green School, in Fonthill, where a physical altercation took place several days ago in a boys’ washroom, an occurrence only recently coming to light.
The brawl was recorded on January 16, by at least one student, and the videos posted online.
One video may be seen here. It also appears at the bottom of this page. The Voice has blurred the image, and removed the audio track, to protect the privacy of those appearing in it. Unmodified versions of the video have been posted by Facebook users and on other online platforms.
All students involved have faced “consequences,” stated Kim Yielding, Chief Communications Officer for the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), who declined to further specify what these consequences were.
Due to confidentiality of student records and privacy laws, Yielding said she isn’t permitted to discuss the exact penalties handed to individual students.
DSBN follows “a model of progressive incident policies,” when it comes to disciplinary action, she said.
In the recording, which was provided to the Voice by an individual who did not wish to be identified, there appear to be about seven students directly involved, and some six others who were interested spectators. The matter has been brought to the attention of DSBN superintendent, Kelly Pisek, who will be looking at safety protocols at the board level.
The Voice has been contacted by parents asking how such a loud fight could occur in a school washroom in the middle of the afternoon, yet go unnoticed by teachers or staff.
Yielding doesn’t have the answers, as yet.
School Principal Todd Halliday did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Every school has a code of conduct and it’s part of the culture, not just anti-bullying, but treating other students with respect,” said Yielding.
“This is not acceptable behaviour at all.”
Yielding said that supervision protocols will have to be reviewed as this issue continues to the board level. She said she has never dealt with anything similar reported in the 12 years she has been with DSBN.
In the meantime, the mother of one child is fuming, describing her son as the target in the altercation.
When her son came home bruised on January 15, he told her he had fallen on the ice, because he was afraid he would get in trouble for fighting. He had a bruised face, and she later found bruises on his arms and stomach.
It wasn’t until a week after the incident that her older son showed her the fight video on Facebook.
“I started crying right away,” she said, but later her emotions soon changed to anger. She knew the boy who had fought with her son, as they were once friends. She said she forbid her son from hanging around with him months ago, as she thought he was a bad influence. Since then, her son said his former friend has “had a beef” with him, been trying to instigate fights, and rally other students against him behind his back.
The boy asserted to his mother that his former friend pulled a knife on him at the Glynn A. Green playground, but they were too far away from the school’s security cameras for this to be detected.
The boy’s mother is angry that the principal also suspended her son, and another friend who was trying to “pull people off” her son during the scuffle, when he was “clearly the victim.”
This decision has prompted a deluge of criticism on social media.
According to the mother, when Principal Todd Halliday questioned the students involved, they said it was her son who wanted to fight.
“The principal said, ‘Why would the students lie?’” she said, adding, “how ridiculous. Of course the students are going to lie—they were waiting in the washroom for this to happen.”
She said her son wouldn’t “walk into an ambush.”
“Why would anyone walk into a washroom with a gang ready to attack you? My son tried to walk out of the bathroom, when he felt a fist at the back of his head, and then they blocked the door,” she said. She believes her son was forced into defending himself.
Yielding said that based on the school’s investigation, the DSBN concluded that the students involved in the fight had mutually agreed beforehand to meet in the washroom for the altercation.
Yielding said the principal called all the parents involved when the incident came to his attention. A police officer also attended the school after the video emerged and suggested that all involved be disciplined. No charges have been laid.
DSBN Trustee Nancy Beamer said that the board became aware of the video after it was posted to social media.
“The principal immediately invited parents of students depicted in the video to come to the school office, view the video with their child, to discuss what happened, and collaborate on the next steps,” said Beamer.
“The outcome of the principal’s investigation was that the incident was pre-arranged by most students who were shown in the video and who recorded the video. The principal continues to review Glynn A Green’s supervision protocols, and to reinforce expectations for student behaviour. The police evaluated this as a school-based issue.”
Now the mother of the targeted boy doesn’t feel safe returning her son to Glynn A. Green. Yielding suggested the mother meet with the principal again, as well as with the superintendent about the next steps to take to have the matter resolved. Yielding said the superintendents do work closely with parents on issues.
“Absolutely, this is an important opportunity to look at safety protocols.”
Since the incident, the mother said she has lost confidence in the principal. Until the school board derives better ways to enforce safety in schools, she is considering the possibility of transferring her son to another school.
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