Dayton school board discusses safety after fights, violence at basketball games

A Meadowdale High School cheerleading coach called on the Dayton school board to do more after two Dayton Public Schools athletic games had fights break out among students in December.

“What are you doing to make these games safe for these kids?” Ashlee Smith, the cheerleading coach, said at the Dec. 20 board meeting.

Eight teenage girls were arrested after a fight broke out at a Dunbar vs. Meadowdale boys basketball game on Dec. 13 at Dunbar. Another fight outside of a Meadowdale vs. Ponitz boys basketball game on Dec. 9 at Meadowdale escalated into gunfire.

Smith said she was walking the cheer girls on her team to their cars when shots broke out at the Meadowdale game. She rushed them inside to safety but said the shots had terrified some of her students and their parents.

DPS school board members responded to her call, sympathizing with her plea and stating the district plans to work with the students who are having issues. But some board members also called on the community to do more.

“This is a community effort,” said Board of Education member Chrisondra Goodwine. “We are all in this. We do not have ownership of these children alone. They belong to this entire city.”

ExploreGun violence initiative from NAACP, police focuses on youth initiatives

Goodwine said the school district is working with other organizations, like the RTA and the county, to make the city a better place.

Will Smith, the school board president, echoed Goodwine’s comments. He noted that the recent gunfire after the Christmas parade in November wasn’t at a school event but still involved teenagers.

“It will take the whole community to kind of come together and work on these things and we extend our arms,” Smith said.

He said at least one of the incidents at athletic games occurred because of struggles with staffing among security guards. Staffing has been an ongoing issue for Dayton Public schools in many areas, not just in security.

“This board will do everything we can to make sure that students and staff and attendees at these athletic events are safe,” said Jocelyn Rhynard, another member of the school board.

Elizabeth Lolli, the DPS superintendent, said the safety of students and staff is the district’s utmost priority. Administrators and security resource officers are always present at district athletic events.

“In addition, all spectators have their bags checked and must walk through metal detectors before entering an event. In recent weeks, the district has increased the presence of (school resource officers),” Lolli said. “Police are also present when staffing allows.”

About the Author