PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — “My kid deserves the right to go to class in a safe environment,” parent Isabelle McClure said as she addressed the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday.
Two dozen Seminole Middle School parents showed up to the regularly scheduled meeting. Several unleashed their frustration regarding what they call a lack of discipline by administrators. They tell us a video of three students fighting in the hall happens daily.
“Last Thursday, a student threw a fire extinguisher through the gym window,” said mother Lindsey Trimble.
“My sixth grader and many other sixth graders are trying to learn in class, and the only thing they are worried about is if they are going to be attacked when the bell rings,” said another father.
News Channel 8 learned there have been more than 100 calls from the school to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office since January. Many of those calls were for assault.
We asked a school board chairperson if this is a Seminole Middle School problem, or a middle school problem in general.
“We haven’t had a problem quite like this before,” said Peggy O’Shea. “There are a lot of issues. Right now it’s a Seminole problem, because it occurred there.”
Parents say the principal doesn’t support her staff and tells them not to discipline certain students. At the meeting, they asked for a change in protocol.
Area Three Superintendent Bob Poth explained changes were made immediately following the fight where the three students were arrested and charged with a felony. Some of the changes include new dismissal routines and changing the seating in the cafeteria.
“They are also initiating increased supervision in the hallways and in the immediate travel areas,” says Poth.
Regardless, parents left Tuesday’s meeting disappointed.
“They aren’t hearing us,” says McClure. “I have never been present at one of these meetings before. I am pretty disgusted with how they handled it.”
Poth also explained that Seminole Middle principal Wendy Bryan is welcoming frustrated parents to come by and talk with her about their concerns.
The school board is waiting to determine all the facts in these cases before they determine if more drastic measures need to be taken, but assure parents they are not being negligent and are taking this seriously.
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