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North Penn Parents Remain Angry Over School Safety

Despite a lengthy school safety forum held on May 14, parents angry at ongoing student violence in the North Penn School District spoke out two days later at a school board meeting.

Before Tuesday’s meeting, a group of parents, grandparents and community members told reporters about their frustration that began with the district’s response to an April 17 attack by a transgender student at Pennbrook Middle School. It sent a 12-year-old girl to the hospital.

Hatfield resident Lauren Rossi told the board another student threatened her son, Tyler, an 8th grader at Pennfield Middle School, on Monday. He went to the office. The principal called the police, who found a knife in the locker of the student who made the threats. “The police officer described it to me as ‘big and daunting.’ Along with paraphernalia.”

She demanded the board do something about violent students who are allowed to come back to regular classrooms.

“My son might not have been here today, or another student who had gotten in the way to help Tyler could have gotten hurt. Do you guys understand how quickly this could have escalated?”

“I have one kid. One. And I thank God every day that he is safe,” said Rossi.

“Why is it all of you are protected by the teachers union, yet no one is protecting our kids?” asked Rossi.  [The teachers union endorsed several current board members in last year’s election.]

Tyler Rossi also said, “Thank goodness” the principal called the police.

“We found that he brought a machete into school. How can a kid get a blade that big into school?” he asked. “How are they getting weapons into school, and nobody’s stopping them? How are all these fights happening? You just send the kids right back to school after three days? What is going on in your district?

“I haven’t been there the last three days. I’m scared to go. I want to know why you guys aren’t doing anything, and when will you start doing something?” he said.

A parent, Yanni Lambros, said board members are now defending the transgender student who attacked the girl with a Stanley cup at Pennbrook.

“Now I’m hearing, ‘You’re trying to spin it around that the attacker was the victim. That he was getting bullied.’ Are you f-n nuts? Are you crazy? Stop harassing kids. Stop harassing parents. I graduated from North Penn. It used to be a great school. They kept boys and girls separate. They called the police when fights happened. They didn’t give any particular groups any particular privilege. Everything was equal justice under the rules of the school at the time. It doesn’t seem like that anymore. You guys push an agenda. You spend a lot of money, and what’s being done? You talk in circles at the safety meeting about all your technology; then why are kids afraid to go to school? That’s on you. Fix it.”

And Alyssa Santiago said a classmate threatened her elementary school child with a screwdriver.

“I pulled my daughter from Pennbrook after her friend was brutally attacked. And now I’m pulling my son. Where is their right to learn? Who’s standing up for the children that want to learn? We’re protecting kids who are violent. Simply, by not holding these kids responsible, you are enabling school violence.”

Parent Shannon Main brought state statistics.

Last year, 325 incidents were reported at the three middle schools.

“This is more than one each day,” she said. “Hatfield Elementary School had 30 incidents last year. I am speaking not just for myself but on behalf of teachers, aides, and bus drivers throughout the district. Last year, a Hatfield Elementary student threatened a teacher with a pair of scissors. Knapp Elementary had 23 incidents reported. A district employee at Knapp suffered a concussion from a violent outburst of a student. North Wales Elementary had 22 incidents last year. We have to put an end to it.

“The current board does not prioritize mental health [and] teacher’s aides because there’s no money in it. Instead, you’re focused on renovation and technology projects that secure million-dollar contracts for your political donors.”

During the safety meeting, the school district’s safety coordinator, Brandon Rhone, described various high-tech devices that the district installed, from AI-aided cameras to sensors that detect gunshots and smoke from vapes.

After that meeting, parent Stephanie Palovcak told DVJournal, “They put on this huge presentation for 45 minutes showcasing what they’re trying to sell us on how great the school is.”

But “many parents spoke out about the constant violence that the kids are experiencing and witnessing in school, whether it be targeted toward their kids, or just because they’re stuck watching it,” she said. “Kids with behavioral issues still deserve an education. But there has to come a point where, if there is constant disruption, they need to be removed and placed elsewhere, not just transferred to another middle school. They need to be placed in a school where they’ll get the help they need.”


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