Prince George's County Public Schools

Parents Concerned About Fighting in Prince George's County Public Schools

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Parents in Prince George’s County are concerned about videos on social media showing fighting in public schools.

One cellphone video taken last week shows a student shove Potomac High School principal Nathaniel Laney in the hallway.

“I want to see them secure the building a little bit more and get these kids, let them be able go to school in peace,” parent Ashley Allen said.

Allen's son attends Potomac High, and she knows Laney, who was her vice principal in high school. She said she talked with him about the disturbing video.

“I asked him, ‘Why do you come in here every day? What makes you come to be disrespected, pushed, assaulted by children?’” she said.

Laney released a statement through the Prince George’s County school system saying that he was not injured in the altercation and that the student who pushed him is a good student and that it's unusual for him to demonstrate that kind of behavior. That student was disciplined.

Prince George's Public Schools has some of the highest school arrest numbers in Maryland. In an effort to break the school-to-prison pipeline last year, the Prince George’s County Board of Education voted to reduce the number of security officers with arresting powers inside of the schools and replace them with one mental health counselor in every high school. 

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“The fact is that we needed mental health clinicians in our schools,” PGCPS COO Mark Fossett said.

Fossett said they've seen many of the videos circulating. While he can't report an uptick, he said they have noticed more emotionally charged interaction by some students since the return to in-person learning.

“The way for us to get out of these situations is to offer students more support, you know,” he said. “More support around mental health, how to resolve the issues that they may have.”

The school system will continue to monitor and assess as the school year progresses, Fossett said. 

“I don't think that the removal of the one position has negatively affected the school, but we are going to take a look at the end of the year and examine what those steps are that we need to take,” Fossett said.

While there was a reduction in some security personnel, the Prince George's County Board of Education voted last year to keep its school resource officers after a community poll showed parents and staff supported them.

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