LORAIN — Several fights have occurred since school began at Lorain High School last month, and District CEO David Hardy said the administration will be cracking down on offenders.
In a Monday news release, Hardy said while the start of the school year has been positive, the “path forward has not gone without incident” and as “a few extreme behaviors” have brought concern about the safety of the high school community.
“Lorain High School has experience several physical altercations and serious verbal disruptions that often stem from larger community disputes that transpire outside of our school,” he said. “We cannot and will not allow for these isolated behaviors to dominate the positive culture we are creating at Lorain High School.”
Hardy said the district would be taking a “strong stance” against the fights, and the students involved would be punished “swiftly.”
“We realize we have to double down our time and energy on working with our high school teachers and leaders to create the environment that all deserve,” he said. “To start, we must remove the isolated behaviors of fewer than 20 scholars, so that the educational well-being of 2,000 scholars can thrive.”
School board president Tony Dimacchia said the body discussed the fights at its meeting Monday night, during which Hardy’s statement regarding the incidents was released.
“(Hardy) doesn’t come to our meetings but someone in the administration must watch the online stream because that statement being released was timed perfectly,” he said. “It just proves that just because we don’t have a ton of power from the state anymore, we can still drive the agenda for the district.”
Dimacchia was referring to the board being stripped of most of its powers due to state House Bill 70, a law passed in 2015 that put Hardy in power after years of poor state report card performance.
“I’m glad they’re doing something, but it should have been handled before now,” he said. “It’s what happens when you have inexperienced and unqualified people in positions, and it puts kids as at risk.”
According to a statement given to the board Monday night by Lorain High School Executive Director Daniel Garvey, there were three fights Sept. 5 and two fights Sept. 7, in addition to a large gathering of students who got into a verbal altercation outside of the school Sept. 7.
All of the students involved in the incidents were suspended.
Hardy said in some cases, the district’s response will “be stronger than normal” when it comes to punishing scholars involved in making the school unsafe, but the district won’t be shying away from its new “restorative practices.”
According to a new district policy, students who struggle with “managing conflict and controlling their anger” will participate in a restorative process where impacted students will: complete a reflection assignment, meet with a guidance counselor to re-establish academic goals, meeting with a social worker to address their emotional needs, and attend a restorative conference with a dean or director.
Finally, the student will participate in a “restorative circle with those who were impacted by the conflict to create a clear understanding of responsibility and participate in a touch point with a graduation guardian or close adult within the building.”
As part of the new process, beginning Saturday, the district will implement “opportunity/restorative Saturdays.” These will be two-hour sessions designed to provide students “the opportunity to understand the expectations that have been set and how to follow them.”
Should students choose not to attend, they will be issued an out of school suspension.
According to Garvey’s report to the board, the school district will be working with the Lorain Police Department to address and identify gang-related violence in the building, and Lorain Police Department spokesman, Lt. Michael Failing, said the two groups will be meeting next week.