Gaithersburg High School’s staff and students are now complaining that the school violence has gotten out of control. Given the magnitude of these fights, staff say that even adults are at risk. In order to prevent further violence, representatives from the MCPS Board of Education hope to go beyond disciplinary action by providing mediation and inviting students back into a safe school community.
The frequency of fights at Gaithersburg HS is so high that students have created a social media page dedicated solely to documenting them. These short clips show students punching, kicking, grabbing each other’s hair and clothes, and dragging their classmates. What is most alarming about the violence is the scope of those actually threatened by it.
Leaked footage shows students wrestling on top of a security officer trying to break up the fight. An anonymous source claims that the power students wield over their teachers allows them to consistently ignore directions without repercussions. The source also claims that the students have gotten physical with the teachers on multiple occasions.
Diana Melendez, a student at Gaithersburg High School, reported her assault at the school to the police. She was rammed into a cement pillar in the girls bathroom, and suffered bruising on the entirety of her left ear.
Although Mendelez was initially listed as a victim, she too was later charged by the police after a video leaked by another Gaithersburg employee showed both Mendelez and her classmate acting outside the bounds of self defense. This is just one of many fights, riots, and disturbing incidents that have occured at Gaithersburg HS this year, and the community recognizes a need for change.
School officials and administrators say they will be taking measures to put an end to the constant violence. Firstly, they are encouraging students to report fights as soon as they break out, so staff can minimize the damage efficiently. In the case of students who feel unsafe at their home school, the school board is also flexible with parents transferring their children.
The MCPS Department of Safety and Security investigated the situation, along with other safety concerns in high schools across the county. In assessing student-on-student fighting, they are working to improve their practices and school environments. Derek Turner of the MCPS Board expressed a desire to provide mediation for students in order to create a unified community instead of a pacified one, saying, “I appreciate the teacher’s concern, but I think we are taking all steps we can to make sure the school stays welcoming for all students and all staff.”
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Sreelekha Chillanki of Richard Montgomery High School