When parents or guardians drop off their children to school or see them off to the bus stop, the hope is that the children will soak up as much learning as possible and maybe have some fun with friends in between.
Public schools are supposed to be a conducive environment for learning. We point this out because that’s no longer a guarantee or it hasn't been in some cases.
Our school campuses aren’t supposed to be danger zones where our children could get attacked, left bloodied and injured so severely they have to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
Some of our schoolchildren have become victims of assaults committed by other students who have a propensity for violence and drunkenness, and whatever other problems they bring with them from home to our campuses aren’t new. The recent incidents do seem to be more frequent and more aggressive.
Based on the repeat violence within school campuses perpetrated by students, we’ve got to ask Superintendent Jon Fernandez and the Guam Education Board if they’ve done enough to signal to the school-based administrators to truly enforce discipline on campus and let everyone in the school staff – from school aides to teachers and administrators – realize there is no room for tolerance for any sign of aggressive and disruptive behavior.
Fernandez is ultimately responsible for nipping the problem in the bud by making it clear that those responsible at the school level cannot let troublesome students continue to escalate a situation the minute they show signs of danger to other students.
The disruptive fight at John F. Kennedy High School last week and the riot at Tiyan High School on Monday are just two of the more recent examples.
In the case of the Tiyan High riot, it has been alleged in court documents that an 18-year-old student who is suspected of having been part of instigating the riot bought liquor from a store and that he and his friends had been drinking on campus.
This same student has a prior criminal case – just a few months ago he was on pretrial release on charges of burglary to a motor vehicle and attempted theft. The burglary was allegedly committed as he and his friends were looking for quick cash when they ran out of alcohol.
Now, this same student faces another set of charges from the riot at Tiyan High – he’s charged with criminal mischief and consumption of alcohol while underage.
Fernandez should designate someone in GDOE to keep track of the police blotter and magistrate's complaints and crosscheck if any of those arrested or charged are students.
This is an extra layer of work, but it's better than having to find out through the media that there are criminal suspects in the general student population's midst, or worse having that student disrupt learning and potentially cause injuries to other students. Until students are cleared of their criminal cases, they should be kept from the campus. Let the parents or guardians of disruptive students be responsible for the students' continued education away from the traditional public school.
Guam public schools must signal that discipline and school safety aren’t just buzz words.
The safety of the majority of our schoolchildren is not negotiable and cannot be compromised.