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Brockton school safety issues tangled with superintendent on leave in budget deficit investigation

Brockton parents and police talk safety in schools
Brockton parents and police talk safety in schools 02:15

BROCKTON - City leaders and parents in Brockton are trying to find ways to make sure the district's schools are safe while they're facing a big budget deficit.

A school safety meeting was held Tuesday night, where tensions flared about what should be done to keep students safe. Superintendent Mike Thomas received a lot of support from parents, who said if he was in charge now, their kids wouldn't be dealing with as many safety and security issues.

"If Mike Thomas was here, this stuff at the high school, you know, would not be happening," said Thomas.

Thomas was supposed to return from medical leave this week but was put on paid leave amid an investigation into a $14 million budget deficit.   

"When they come with their findings and their report, I said this and I'll say it again. That report is going public, we need to figure out what happened," said Mayor Robert Sullivan.

Sullivan abruptly wrapped up the meeting after Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey said it would not be appropriate to deploy National Guard members to the schools. The idea was proposed by several school committee members.

"I didn't want them to come in," said one parent. "I think it would make the worst of the worst kids try and show that they're stronger, just like they do with the police officers, they want to challenge them."

Brockton Police Chief Brenda Perez said last school year, they received about 1,100 calls for service from the district, including 80 from the high school. So far this year, they've received about 800 calls, including 40 from the high school, about thefts, altercations, medical calls and missing persons.

"There's a lot of fights, there's tons of people skipping classes," said one student.

Perez made several suggestions at the meeting to increase safety.

"We recommend that the school hire a school security director to oversee all safety and security planning," said Perez.

Perez said the school district's most current security plan is about 10 years old. She said ideally, it should be reviewed every three years.

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