West High / Regent Neighborhood Crime Discussion

Parents, staff and community officials met Wednesday night to discuss a number of recent violent incidents at and near Madison West High School [map]
I took a few notes during the first 60 minutes:
Madison Alders Robbie Webber and Brian Solomon along with James Wheeler (Captain of Police – South District), Luis Yudice (Madison School District The Coordinator of Safety And Security), Randy Boyd (Madison Metro Security) and West Principal Ed Holmes started the meeting with a brief summary of the recent incidents along with a brief school climate discussion:
James Wheeler:

Police beat officer and Educational Resource Office (ERO) patrol during West’s lunch period.
“There have been complaints from the houses around the school” so MPD increased patrols to “make a statement last week”.
Still a relatively safe neighborhood.
3 arrests at Homecoming.
Made a drug dealing arrest recently.
People do see drug dealing going on and have reported it.
There have been additional violent incidents, especially at the Madison Metro transfer points

Ed Holmes

Behavior is atypical of what we have seen on the past . Perpetrators are new to West.
Emphasized the importance of a safe learning environment.
Make sure there are police and school consequences and that they are severe. These crimes are unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Randy Boyd (Madison Metro)

60+ bus runs daily for the school system.
There have been some serious fights at the transfer points. Cameras are in place there.
Main problem is confidentiality due to the students age. Can track them via bus passes.
Adding DSL so that the police precinct can monitor the transfer points. Incidents are about the same as last year but the numbers are going up.
Baptist church elders have helped patrol the South Transfer Point. We are looking for more community help.

Luis Yudice

Big picture perspective:
Our community really has changed a lot within the past five years. I sense a great deal of stress within the police department.
Citywide issues
Increasing violence involving girls. He has looked at a lot of data with the District Attorney’s office. Girls are extremely angry.
Angry parents are coming into the schools.
Increasing issues in the neighborhood that end up in the schools. Mentioned South Transfer Point beating and that Principal Ed Holmes mediated the situation at an early stage.
Growing gang violence issue particularly in the east side schools. We do have gang activity at Memorial and West but most of the issues are at Lafollete and East. Dealing with this via training and building relationships
What the school are experiencing is a reflection of what is going on in the community.


Parent asked about weapons in school, metal detectors and k9 units.

Do we have weapons in school? Yes we find knives in all the schools. No guns. Unfortunate fact is that if a kid wants to get their hand on a gun, they can. They are available.

Ed Holmes:

“We took away a gun once in my 18 years”.
I want to get across to the students – if they see something they have to report it. We have 2100 students and 250 staff members.


Kids are afraid of the bathrooms
Another lunch assault that has not been reported.
Incidents are much higher than we know because many incidents are not reported.

A parent asked why the District/Police did not use school ID photos to help victims find the perpetrators? Ed Holmes mentioned that District has had problems with their photo ID vendor.

Madison School Board member (and West area parent) Maya Cole also attended this event.

3 thoughts on “West High / Regent Neighborhood Crime Discussion”

  1. Crime in our schools continue. Look at the assault complaint at WhiteHorse Middle School about teacher Richard Raith. The substiture principal, Gary Sisler has “left” the school weeks before the planned date. I think there is a practice of not telling the public about assaults committed in the MMSD. What must a school employee do before the district will step forward and say they have done wrong?

  2. Seems to me it’s time to look at the West suspension and related data, especially for the years of the West SLC grant:
    Also, here are some questions I have come up with for tonight’s West PTSO meeting on this same topic of school safety, based on my experience at last night’s meeting:
    1. Last night was a little frustrating. We realized after the meeting that we had not been told much factual information about the number of incidents that have occurred at West this year, or the specific details of the incidents that have occurred, or what the consequences have been for the perpetrators. Please make sure that Mr. Holmes (or someone) provides us with clear, complete and accurate information about the incidents. The reason why this is important is so that everyone is well informed and on the same page, as well as to quell rumors about the incidents.
    2. Here is a question from another parent:
    “I do have a question that I wonder if you would pose … . In the case of the 9 kids attacking the West student for lunch money, 3 of the perpetrators are now in juvenile detention. The other 6 ‘bystanders’ are back at West. There does not to appear to have been an incident report filed by the police department. How does public reporting of these incidents work? Clearly, the current West administration would prefer not to allow for easy tabulation and reporting on incidents in their building. What discretion does the MPD allow for reporting of crimes within the school?”
    Please ask the West administration and MPD representative to clarify and provide details/answers.
    3. We have always heard that Mr. Holmes is the only person at West who can call the police onto school grounds. Is that true? Is there an understanding among the West staff that that is so? What, exactly, is the procedure for DECIDING to call the police to West? What is the procedure for actually calling them?
    4. I understand that when incidents occur off of school grounds, the school administration has no jurisdiction. I also understand that while waiting for their cases to be processed through the system, known perpetrators must be allowed back in school. However, I also appreciate that this (the presence of known perpetrators in the school) easily adds to the fear and tension in the school community. … What sort of initial and ongoing outreach does the school staff do to the victims of incidents? to known perpetrators who are still in school waiting for their cases to be processed? It seems to me that this is an excellent opportunity for the SLC restructuring to really have a beneficial impact. It seems to me that the victims’ SLC staff and the perpetrators’ SLC staff should all be well informed of what has happened and working together to stay connected to these students. When I think about the SLC staff staying connected to the perpetrators, I do not mean in a punitive way. I mean in a warm and human way, in order to keep watch over them and bring them back into the community.
    5. When incidents occur in and around the school that involve West students, how are the details communicated with the West staff and students? Is there a procedure in place for conveying such information? To what extent are things left to the rumor mill?
    6. We are always reassured that the situation at West is much less worrisome than it is at the other MMSD high schools. Assuming that is true (and I’m not convinced it is), what can we learn from the experiences of the other high schools so that we can prevent the situation at West from becoming as bad as it is at the other high schools?
    I have emailed my questions to West PTSO President Santhia Brandt — santhia@sbcglobal.net . I encourage others to do the same. Don’t forget to bring a hard copy of your questions to tonight’s meeting (7:00 p.m. in the West cafeteria), just to make sure they are all asked and answered.

  3. I, too, was frustrated by the naivete of so many parents at the meeting. Parents were calling for increased patrolling of the halls and perimeter of the school. When questioned how this would be funded, parents suggested volunteers. We struggle with active volunteers at such simple events as concessions and dances let alone daytime patrolling! Also, tell me how many parents would know how to diffuse an angry, hormonal teen that they have no relationship with?
    I do not pretend that the violence at West is not an issue but I see no trust in the administration that they are working on resolutions. Spend a few days at West (not just one day or a few hours) and then come back to me and tell me the administration is burying their heads.
    You want to change things? Get involved. Whining and not doing your part in community activism, School Board involvement, PTSO, and school volunteering does nothing!

Comments are closed.