In the first six weeks of school, Galt High School students have reportedly been involved in more on-campus fist fights than all of last school year.
School administrators called an impromptu public safety meeting last week to discuss the issue, and is planning a future event to create a positive campus atmosphere, according to interim Principal Maria Orr.
"We take student safety very seriously and decided to (also) have an emergency assembly with each grade level to let students know that they have a right to be safe and comfortable at school, and that they need to let us know if they hear of something before it happens," Orr said.
The school is also seeking input from parents on how to support campus safety.
One mother, who asked that her name not be used because of the position she holds in the community, said the issue stems from the sheer number of freshmen held in a cordoned-off area during lunch. She faults Orr and vice principal Kellie Beck for enforcing the so-called "red line" rule.
"They keep them all contained and under control. The kids are angry, and they're pissed off," she said.
But Orr said the school has always enforced the red line rule — even when there were 2,300 students before Liberty Ranch High School opened. The supervised area behind the line includes the quad and the cafeteria, and students who leave it are redirected to return immediately.
This helps officials ensure that students are visible to the adults on campus. When students leave the red line area, they are no longer in view and it creates a safety issue, Orr added.
Last Tuesday's meeting was in response to a fight that occurred during lunch last week.
"Many of the altercations are between ninth-graders who state that they have had difficulties with other ninth-grade students that go back to middle school," Orr said. "If these issues are not resolved, they become compounded when students get to high school."
She said the number within the first five weeks of school this year is a concern for school administrators.
"We are taking the control back by involving students, parents and planning for a series of workshops to educate and empower our students and staff to say no to the altercations," she said, pointing to concerns with bullies.
Data shows that five out every 100 students are bullies, 10 out of every 100 students are targets and 85 out of every 100 students are witnesses, according to Orr.
She plans to hold regular meetings with parents. Additionally, a survey asking students how they perceive student safety on campus will be distributed.
Next month, the school will request board approval of a three-day workshop called "Bringing Down the Walls." The program — at an estimated cost of $9,000 — is designed to bring unification to campuses by empowering students to create a positive and supportive climate at their school, according to Orr.
"We welcome parents and community members to come to GHS and to help us in promoting a safe and positive environment for students," she said, adding that parent volunteers are also welcomed as an extra set of eyes and ears before and after school and during lunchtime.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.