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Healey says no National Guard for Brockton High School

Peter Roby
Healey says no National Guard for Brockton High School
Brockton High School PHOTO: Alex Perez

Gov. Maura Healey rejected calls this week to deploy National Guard troops to patrol the hallways of troubled Brockton High School where assaults, threats and drug use have mounted after staffing cuts and teacher absences. 

Suggestions of National Guardsmen or a Commonwealth takeover came up during school vacation week in February as tactics for reinstating order on the campus.

But Healey’s press secretary, Karissa Hand, said that the administration “does not believe that deploying the National Guard is the right solution for Brockton.”

Staffing shortages at the predominantly Black high school have led to students sitting idly during  “Teacher Absent Without a Sub” periods.

“My son sits in the cafeteria for hours,” said one school parent. “So many times he’s called me early in the morning, like 9:30, and said he’s done for the day.”

In each of the building’s four cafeterias, at least 100 students can be the responsibility of a single teacher.

“It snowballs from there, because everything becomes a result of those kids sitting in the cafeteria,” said Moises Rodrigues, Brockton City Council president.

Brockton High School has become a fraught learning environment. Youth without classes to attend instead roam the halls. Marijuana use is commonplace. So are injuries, with ambulances carting away injured students and teachers from the school.

With spiraling student safety issues, Rodrigues called on volunteers to step in. As far as he’s concerned, Brockton’s elected officials should step up first, followed closely by school district administrators offering to volunteer. “We have 200-plus people in [Brockton Public Schools] Central Office,” he pointed out. “You’re telling me you can’t come up with 20 of them?”

“We don’t have enough teachers to keep those kids in class,” said Fred Fontaine, a Haitian American father of three Brockton Public Schools graduates. A former mayoral contender, Fontaine also faulted a dearth of translators and community outreach from the understaffed schools. “Now the parents are not involved, the teachers are afraid of those kids and the kids are fighting each other.”

But Rodrigues resisted blaming parents. “You cannot go after parents when you have their kids sitting in the cafeteria.”

Instead, Rodrigues expressed frustration with federal and state officials, saying they are “out of touch with what’s on the ground.”

”Everything is geared towards Boston,” he added. “There’s been a severe neglect by the state when it comes to providing ancillary services to the city.”

Parents say they are eager to see the situation improve. 

Maribel Cruz is a single mother of four, including a Brockton High senior. Although she said she has heard “horror stories about Brockton High,” she said, “We don’t need policing; we need education.”

Her daughter JD excelled at Brockton, Cruz said. “Between the teachers and her attitude, everything was awesome.”

JD also briefly participated in an after-school program to learn engineering. 

“They cut off the program with no warning,” Cruz complained.

She said she struggles to stay involved at Brockton High. “I don’t really have information. They don’t really put things out there” for families.

Jolene Cesar, a Haitian-American mother of two, works nights. Her daughter, Euwindia, is a Brockton High junior.

Cesar says raising children is “very scary,” and she often opts to pick up Euwindia early from school. But she rejects the idea of bringing in the National Guard. “

It’s too extreme to have the army at a school,” she said.