Ever since Feb. 14, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been under the microscope of the entire nation. Security has been heightened and the administration has tried to crack down on violations of the Broward County Code of Conduct.
However, on Feb. 26, four students were arrested by authorities after being engaged in a lunchtime fight. At the beginning of A lunch, at 10:50 a.m., the four teens began fighting and were recorded by several of their peers.
Two of the students can be seen leaving the fight right before coaches Eliot Bonner and Orlando McCorvey pulled two boys, who were still fighting, apart. Two of the students are 18-years-old and were both charged with assaulting an elected official and disturbing administrative functions. Principal Ty Thompson sent out a voicemail to all parents regarding the fight.
“Today there was an altercation involving four students… all four were arrested by [Broward Sherrif’s Office]. This type of behavior will not be tolerated on our campus,” Thompson said in a Parent Link voicemail.
Videos of the fight quickly spread across social media, earning responses from two of the fathers of the victims of last year’s shooting, as well as other concerned MSD parents, students and members of the community.
“Are your kids safe in Broward Schools?” Ryan Petty, father of slain MSD student Alaina Petty, tweeted, along with a video of the fight.
Andrew Pollack, who’s daughter Meadow Pollack was killed on Feb. 14, also tweeted regarding the fight.
“I sent my daughter to this school thinking she’d be safe. She never came home. Watch this brutal fight at the same school a year later,” Pollack tweeted. “Because of this incompetent school district, I have to live without my daughter for the rest of my life.”
Both father’s tweets included the hashtag “fixit” which has been created to urge the Broward Schools District to increase its security measures and disciplinary actions. Fights have been occurring at MSD long before the events of Feb. 14, yet this one has become very publicized.
“I’m not exactly sure why it is that this fight has become such a staple on social media,” Assistant Principal Daniel Most said.
The punishments for fighting on school grounds are laid out in the Broward County Discipline Matrix. However, the exact repercussions for these students are confidential and could not be released by the school.
“Due to confidentiality reasons I cannot tell you what specifically is happening with these students,” Most said. “We do follow the Discipline Matrix, that’s all I can say.”
The matrix states every action that will be taken depending on the incident and it’s severity. A major fight between multiple students will result in a parent/administrative conference, a three-day out of school suspension and a consultation with law enforcement for each of the participants.
In response to Petty’s tweet, several MSD students commented on the amount of publicity this fight has been getting.
“As a student at MSD, I understand why this is all types of wrong, but fights have been happening in high schools forever and why do we have to stop them now just because of our circumstances,” junior Juliette Hoffiz tweeted. “I do agree that they must be stopped, but our circumstances are not the reason why.”
Many parents are concerned about preventing further fights and altercations between students. MSD has many different prevention programs in place to further prevent this type of situation.
“We have done workshops in the beginning of the year in the auditorium with the entire student body,” Most said. “We do have ‘Silence Hurts,’ active listeners, our security specialists and administrators. We encourage students that when they see something to say something or to talk to our counselors.”
Another prevention program is SaferWatch, an app and website that is used to anonymously report any suspicious activity. It allows users to communicate with law enforcement in emergency and non-emergency situations. Every report is vetted to make sure that is legitimate and there are no frauds being reported.
Right now the school has not, and cannot, release anymore information regarding the incident. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has also not issued any new details.