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Baltimore County Public Schools Hear From Parents As District Sees Recurring Violence

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Fights, pepper spray and a shooting. Just a few examples of the violence Baltimore County Public Schools have seen this year alone. The county's Board of Education held a hearing Thursday night for parents to voice their concerns, and what they think needs to be done to stop it

Most parents talked about how fights and violence on campus need to be met with severe disciplinary action every time, because of the effect it's having on all students.

One mother said her son is afraid to go to school. Another said schools are supposed to be a safe space, but after two of her children were assaulted, she says it hasn't been.

"My once carefree son now consistently has to worry if he will fall victim to an act of violence," she said.

"It feels like we're sending our kids to fight club," said one parent of four students in the school system. "In the last week, I've dealt with two assaults against two different children in two different schools in my home."

Thursday's focus was on two policies highlighting ways to discipline the students behind violent behavior. Policy 5550, which establishes guidelines for how school administrators and staff respond to rule violations, and Policy 5560, which governs suspensions and expulsions.

In December, Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Darryl Williams attributed much of the uptick in violence to the pandemic.

"The ongoing trauma experienced by families as a result of this global pandemic continues to manifest itself in an uptick of disruptive behaviors," Williams said in a letter to parents after a rash of violent incidents. "We are not alone, school systems across the nation are facing similar challenges."

Some parents agree, but most say the pandemic shouldn't be an excuse for why policies can't be enforced.

"These issues can and should be addressed but not be used as a pass to avoid discipline," one parent said.

Parents had a limited time to speak at the virtual hearing,  but the Board of Education said anyone with more comments can reach out.

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