Recent fights, violence spark protest, debate on ways to boost Baton Rouge school safety

Recent fights, violence spark protest, debate on ways to boost Baton Rouge school safety
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Almost every school suspended fewer students, some far fewer. For instance, at University Terrace only 3% of children were suspended in 2021-22 compared with an average of 28% before.

Johnson, who is a librarian at Sharon Hills Elementary, said disruptions remain a regular occurrence.

“We had a couple of fights today,” Johnson said. “And we had a couple of fights yesterday and that was a half day.”

The other big teacher union, the Federation of Teachers, did not take part in Thursday’s protest.

Angela Reams-Brown, president of the local chapter of that union, said she understands the concerns, saying she’s particularly keen on having more school resource officers in schools.

“We agree that there is a problem with student behavior and violence in the classroom,” Reams-Brown said.

She applauded some schools for taking proactive action to head off incidents. For instance, she said Woodlawn High was right in bringing in law enforcement recently to prevent a rumored student fight, and said Liberty High was smart recently in changing its schedule to prevent fights in the bathroom during class time.

Nevertheless, Reams-Brown traced some of the problem to school administrators, and even fellow teachers, who are not doing their jobs or are failing to properly document problems when they arise.

Johnson questioned changes instituted last summer to the student handbook that downgraded the initial consequences of some infractions, including arson, which she noted is a “a felony charge in real life.”

Reams-Brown sat on the committee that helped devise the current handbook. She defended the changes, saying that schools have to work to find ways to keep kids in school, not put them out.


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