Fights break out, staffer hit in face at Memorial

The Capital Times reports in a story by Lee Sensenbrenner:

A staff member at Memorial High School was struck in the face and a fire alarm went off after several fights broke out at once in a crowded hallway of Madison’s largest high school.
According to a report by Madison Police Lt. Pat Malloy, eight to 10 students were involved in a disturbance Monday morning that “turned into three to five physical fights in the hallway.” At some point during this, “an officer inadvertently touched a fire alarm,” Malloy said.
“A short time later, a staff member asked a student to remove a hat,” Malloy wrote in a release. “The student responded by striking the staff member in the face.”


Has the MMSD or any other agency followed up on the suggestions to convene a task force on gangs and student violence, as proposed at the forum sponsored by the schoolinfosystem.org? Seems like some follow up would be a good idea.

  • Lucy M

    Ed,
    While there clearly are gangs in Madison schools, I’m not sure that much of the violence at East last year and Memorial this year is about gangs. I’m not arguing that the weapons, fights, and other activities are not serious problems. I’m just concerned that treating negative trends as gang issues may not help to address the problems that we’ve seen.
    At the forum on gangs at East last year, one of the parents asked how much of the fights at East and LaFollette were gang-related. The answer was, not much. Tonight’s news pretty much said that these were not gang fights at Memorial.
    What’s going on? Boy-girl stuff, girl fights, general teen aggression, poor choices, and inappropriate ideas of conflict management tended to be much larger factors – at least last year. The amount of drama, posturing, and violence as a means of saving face is quite obvious if you spend much time listening to kids in and around the schools. Doesn’t make anyone feel safe, but I’m not sure we’ve seen good approaches to changing the culture.
    Lucy

  • Ed Blume

    Lucy,
    Without a doubt, most school violence in Madison is not gang related. In the Memorial fights, gangs were apparently an issue, according to a story in the Wisconsin State Journal:
    “[Memorial Principal Bruce] Dahmen opened the meeting by recapping the recent problems. Four students were arrested for carrying weapons on school property – two knives and two guns – in four incidents. A 15-year-old student was hit by a car while running across Mineral Point Road against the light Oct. 18. On Monday, three incidents of violence at the school led to nine suspensions, most from a fight that broke out when two students asked another about his gang affiliation.”
    According to the newspaper reports on the schoolinfosystem forum on gangs and violence: “Former Madison Police Capt. Luis Yudice on Wednesday called for a community task force to address the growing problem of gang violence.
    “We’re lacking a comprehensive strategy so we can all work in unison,” Yudice told about 50 people who attended a panel discussion on gangs and school violence. . .”
    I haven’t seen any follow up on the suggestion. I hope that somebody or some agency is working on a comprehensive strategy someplace in Madison.

  • Johnny Winston, Jr.

    Stephen Blue is a part of the Gang Task Force that is currently in place. Perhaps you should contact him. I heard that the Task Force will soon be publishing some short term and long term goals. The district’s Ted Balistreri has been involved.

  • Carol Carstensen

    Johnny is correct.
    I spoke with Stephen Blue after the forum on Poverty & Education and he said he was about to finalize a report from the task force that had proposals for both short range and long range intervention. And yes, Ed, the district has been a part of this task force.
    Carol

  • Ed Blume

    Great, Carol.
    The reported comments from the forum seem to imply that nothing was going on.
    I’m glad that a group will be making recommendations.

  • Ed Blume

    I received an e-mail today from Stephen Blue who said that the task force on gangs is working on the final draft of its report which should be available shortly.
    I hope that the board plans for an overview of any school-related issues as soon as the report is available and then refers the report to an appropriate committee to develop specific recommendations that might be needed for the district to implement relevant task force recommendations.