School officials said they are looking for answers and local religious leaders pledged to help after two separate fights this week at Trotwood-Madison High School resulted in at least 14 arrests.
On Friday morning, a group of people, including Norman J. Searce, Trotwood school board member, took part in a prayer rally outside the school.
“We are here today to kind of garner the support and commitment to community members that says, ‘Hey, you know we are getting involved.’ ” Searce said. “We don’t have all the answers, but we will definitely commit to doing something.”
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By Friday afternoon, Superintendent Tyrone Olverson and Board President Denise Moore held a press conference to assure parents that school safety is paramount and the quest to find answers will be an aggressive one.
“In a situation like this, of course everybody is up in arms because they don’t know what happened,” Moore said. “I would have the same concern like any parent. We have to do the investigation and then put out the facts.”
Monday’s fight involved three people who are not enrolled in the school causing a disruption in the building. Thursday’s fight ended with 11 arrests in what a court official suggested could be gang related.
Olverson said the district “isn’t going to hide anything,” adding, “give us the time to do our due diligence, and we will provide the community with the facts.”
The first fight at the school erupted Monday morning after three non-students made their way into the building and confronted students in the cafeteria who were eating breakfast.
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The school resource officer who broke up the altercation arrested three teenagers who are not enrolled at the school, and they are facing charges of trespassing.
The second fight occurred Thursday afternoon, resulting in 11 high school students being arrested on preliminary charges that include disorderly conduct.
The school isn’t alone in having to address violence, as two other districts had recent incidents involving arrests on school grounds.
The motive for Thursday’s fight is not known, according to police, and the students involved were not willing to tell police or school officials anything about it. Additional police presence was deployed at the school on Friday.
Moore said officials don’t plan to add more resource officers or security at the school long-term, but the school’s safety plan is being reviewed to determine whether there are additional needs to ensure the safety of all students and staff.
Police have expressed concerns that Thursday’s fight may be gang-related, according to Montgomery County juvenile court Magistrate Todd Calaway. On Friday, he mentioned the concerns multiple times during court hearings for the juveniles arrested at the high school Thursday.
If additional students were involved in the recent conflicts, they will also face disciplinary action according to the Student Code of Conduct.
“One thing you find out about this generation is that they don’t talk much,” Olverson said. “Violence is not going to resolve conflicts when our students have conflicts.”
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Multiple Hamilton Freshman School students were arrested for fighting in early February in a school hallway, school officials said. The fight, which eventually involved teachers and a school police officer breaking it up, started at in a first-floor hallway, said Larry Knapp, superintendent of Hamilton Schools.
Several Springfield High School students were arrested this week after a large fight at the school, officials said.
The Springfield Police Division responded to the school at 11:30 a.m. for a report of gunfire at the school. However, police said there was no gun involved in the incident.
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The Ohio Department of Health released a report in 2018, "Violent Behavior in Children and Teens," which states that there is no single explanation for the violence caused by youth. Many different things cause violent behavior in children.
“Teens who view the world as harsh, interpret harmless situations as hostile, and view people as either victims or bullies are often more prone to violence,” the report states. “If this describes your child, talk to him or her about your concerns.”
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