Parents pull kids from final classes over concerns of violence at elementary school
A video surfaced on social media of three boys fighting at Clara Brenton Public School on Friday night
After a video surfaced on social media of three boys fighting in a change room at Clara Brenton Public School in London, a number of parents have pulled their kids from class in the final week of school.
Footage of the incident was circulating on social media and has caught the attention of the Thames Valley District School Board, which is investigating.
"The health and safety of our staff and students is our number one priority," said Superintendent Andrew Canham in a statement.
A youth in the video can be heard saying, 'Pull out the gun, bro,' in the moments before the video ends. It was taken on Friday at the school's graduation event.
CBC News has spoken to two parents who have kept their children home because of concerns for their safety. CBC has agreed to withhold their names to protect their children.
"At least three times in the video, you can hear the N-word being said," one parents explains. "When the fight is broken up and they're walking out, someone says, 'Time to pull out the gun.'"
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This parent said she's kept her child home since Tuesday after learning from social media channels used by the students that another fight was planned.
"There was talk of a knife," she said. "It's gotten so far out of hand. I'm afraid to send my child to school. I know of several parents who pulled their kids today because they are worried about their safety."
"It's gotten so far out of hand. I'm afraid to send my child to school.- Clara Brenton Public School parent
There are few consequences for those who engage in violent behaviour, the parent said.
"The kids have come to almost see it as every day. This is what happens. This is how school works. And the altercations are in the classroom, on the yard, in other parts of the building.
The board said Tuesday that there are consequences for students in the form of progressive discipline. It did not give details about what that entailed.
Problem of violence says union
There have been other incidents of violence this past school year in London schools and the head of the local union says parents deciding to keep their children home speaks to the level of concern in the school community.
"It isn't just a one off," said Craig Smith, Thames Valley Teacher President, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO). "We have been saying for some time that this is a big problem."
Smith was shocked hearing the words spoken about the gun at the end of the video.
"The initial reaction is one of disbelief and sadness that these kinds of incidents are taking place in our public schools," said Smith.
Smith isn't happy with how the board has been handling these concerns of violence at schools. "There needs to be a much more proactive response to these issues rather than sort of a shrug, a normalization of it," said Smith.
"We need to have a broad and and nuanced approach to this because it isn't just a question of zero tolerance and punishment, although, that might be a part of it at some point."
One parent CBC spoke to said they would send their child back to school for the last day, if the students in the video are suspended.