New Bedford Public Schools email

New Bedford leaders raise concerns over public school system

By Bianca Buono

@BBuonoABC6

Dozens of parents in New Bedford are now questioning the safety of their kids at school. This is coming after some very disturbing stories have been shared about violence taking place in New Bedford public schools, specifically Keith Middle School.

Amber Snow has been out of Keith Middle School for two years, but her experiences with bullying and violence are still haunting her and her mother.

"There is a lot of bullying going on in that school, ” said Marlene Snow, the mother of a former Keith student.

So much so that she's sending her younger son somewhere else for middle school.

"I’m not going to let him go to that school!” Snow said.

She’s not alone. New Bedford city councilors say dozens of parents and teachers have filed complaints about the public school system. They say teachers are being threatened and are scared for their lives and violent students are taking over classrooms.

"It almost brings me to tears, ” said New Bedford City Councilor-at-Large Ian Abreu.

Abreu says most of the stories he has heard are too disturbing to share, but one he can tell is from a father.

"His son, who's 12-years-old, who's in the seventh grade, he reached out to him around mid-day on Tuesday of this past week, and he texted him and said, 'Dad you've got to get me out of here I'm in fear of my life, ’” Abreu explained.

City councilors say one of the major problems is that teachers are afraid to come forward in fear of losing their jobs.

"Something is drastically wrong here, ” said Brian Gomes, another New Bedford City Councilor-at-Large.

Abreu's colleague, Brian Gomes, is taking matters into his own hands and has filed a motion, requesting that immediate action be taken at Keith Middle School by adding a second school resource officer and requiring the superintendent, Pia Durkin, to meet with the city to discuss the issues.

"I had to address it last night. It's about the public safety of our kids, the faculty, ” Gomes said.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell released a statement to ABC6, saying:

"It's unfair to condemn the entire school system based on complaints coming out of Keith Middle School. Our schools are safe and making significant academic progress; that said, parents and faculty at Keith have raised legitimate concerns about disruptive behavior, which the central administration must address.”

A representative for New Bedford Public Schools sent ABC6 an email saying the principal at Keith Middle School met with staff in small groups Friday to discuss strategies with teachers. The email, in part, said:

“Staff have suggested:

- Increase in consequences for behavior

- Additional detention schedule

- Schedule of increased staff supervision throughout the building

- Grade-level meetings between teachers and their administrators

- Strengthening communication regarding consequences for discipline

- Increased parent partnerships to prevent minor infractions from escalating

- Framing the behavior code on a regular basis for all students reminding them of appropriate behavior

- Principals and teachers will meet with students regularly to review code of conduct and expectations

- Incentives for positive behavior


Interesting facts:

New Bedford High School (NBHS) is a public high school located at 230 Hathaway Boulevard in the West End of New Bedford, Massachusetts. The school has approximately 3,200 students, and is one of the largest schools in the state. New Bedford is also one of the...

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