New Bedford to hold private meeting on school violence

By: Alexandra Cowley

Parents, students and teachers in New Bedford will get the chance to air their concerns about violence in their schools. The city council voted Thursday night to hold a private meeting, after an ABC6 news investigation uncovered incidents involving teachers breaking up student fights in the hallways.

Councilors Brian Gomes and Steven Martins made the motion for this closed door meeting because they say they've heard about the violence in public schools from residents in their wards and they want to get to the bottom of it.

In a 10 to 1 vote, New Bedford city councilors passed the motion to meet privately with students and teachers about what's going on in the halls of the city's public schools

Councilor Gomes said, “This is a significant issue to the city of New Bedford, it's a significant issue to the teachers that teach at our schools, to our students that go to our schools, and to the parents that love those kids that go to school each and every day, and no kid should be involved in a violent episode.”

Gomes and Martins drafted the motion together after an ABC6 news investigation last week that found 23 incidents involving teachers breaking up fights last year at New Bedford High School and 13 the year before. In 2012, a violent video of a fight inside New Bedford High School school was posted to YouTube.

“We have many incidences that are not reported and just swept under the table,” explained Gomes.

“It's our job to investigate if this matter is true or not,”said Councilor Steven Martins.

Councilor Dana Rebeiro was the only one against the motion. She declined an interview with ABC 6 News. She spoke out against the motion during comment saying it was unfair.

Students, teachers, and administration are invited to share their experiences and ideas for resolving the issue. A date for this closed door meeting has not been set, but councilors hope to have something scheduled in the next 30 days.

(C) WLNE-TV 2014