Buffalo, N.Y. (WIVB) — Riverside High School students and teachers passionately addressed the Buffalo Board of Education during a meeting on Wednesday night, demanding immediate safety improvements following a recent incident where a student was slashed outside the school. These calls for change come in the wake of ongoing security concerns at the school.
Riverside High School teachers disclosed that they’ve had to dial 911 nearly every day since the school year began, and reports of daily fights within the high school have raised alarm. One teacher emphasized that the 19-year-old assailant who injured a Riverside High School student had been inside the school earlier that day, having entered through a side door.
“Our students at Riverside are in a state of crisis, yet nobody has convened a meeting like this to discuss these issues with parents, teachers, and students,” expressed Marc Bruno, a Riverside teacher. “While we’re in this ideal world, our students are being injured, and we have daily fights. 911 calls are routine, and the situation is deteriorating.”
Urgent Need for Enhanced Safety Measures
Riverside High School students and teachers conveyed their apprehensions to the board, primarily focusing on the urgent need for enhanced safety measures, including stationing a school resource officer in the building, establishing a drop-in center staffed by mental health professionals, and reinforcing security at side entrances and doors. “The person who attacked a student within our school used the same entrance to gain access. They were inside the building that day, and nobody alerted us. We learned about it from the news,” stated Bruno.
Fear in the Hearts
Kelly Best, another Riverside High School teacher, expressed her fear, saying, “At this point, all options must be on the table. I am afraid that the next time we address this board, there might be a tragedy within our walls.”
“The response to violence in our school is always reactive, never proactive,” added Michelle O’Connell, a teacher at Riverside. “Riverside requires additional support, including more security officers, a school resource officer, and an increased number of mental health professionals.”
Fear Interfering the Learning of the Students
Tommy Clabeaux, the Senior Class Vice President, shared the sentiments of his peers, stating, “I have had numerous discussions with my classmates regarding the violence at Riverside. Many feel vulnerable and are anxious about attending school, fearing they may get hurt.” Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams, who herself graduated from Riverside, acknowledged the gravity of the situation and expressed her commitment to addressing it. She stated that she has already initiated actions to mitigate tensions within the school, but solving the issue will take time.
“I don’t need to attend meetings and articulate my commitment when I am visiting homes, speaking with parents, or visiting hospitals,” explained Buffalo Public Schools
Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams. “But I want Riverside to understand that you have a superintendent who genuinely cares about you and your school.”
Dr. Williams further revealed that district leadership and the school’s principal will convene a meeting on Friday to develop comprehensive action plans for each student at Riverside, a testament to the administration’s dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of the school community.