Massachusetts governor denies request for National Guard assistance in tackling high school violence

Dive Brief:

  • Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey opted not to utilize the National Guard at a high school following a plea from Brockton Public Schools’ board members for the Guard’s assistance in crisis management and community support until long-term solutions are implemented.

  • The board emphasized the need for temporary intervention due to a rise in violent incidents, security issues, and substance abuse problems, expressing concerns about preventing a potential tragedy, which has resulted in 35 teachers being absent.

  • However, Healey deemed the deployment of the National Guard inappropriate, with critics suggesting it could discourage student attendance at the school, as per local news reports.

Dive Insight:

The request for military protection at Brockton High School reflects a nationwide surge in school violence reports, behavioral concerns, substance abuse issues, and teacher shortages.

This confluence of factors is not only affecting education at Brockton but also complicating statewide testing, according to district leaders.

The National Association of School Resource Officers expressed surprise at the school board’s request, noting the unprecedented nature of such a plea.

Mo Canady, NASRO’s executive director, highlighted that while the National Guard plays a specific role, policing K-12 schools is beyond its mandate, emphasizing that school safety is primarily a local and law enforcement responsibility.

“The most effective approach to addressing school security issues, be it violence, armed threats, or general crime prevention, is through well-trained school resource officers working collaboratively with school administration,” Canady stated.

An SRO at Brockton High School faced scrutiny in 2021 for a student apprehension incident, but an internal investigation ultimately cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

Recent data indicated that nearly 70% of public schools reported at least one violent incident in the 2021-22 academic year, with middle and high schools registering higher rates of both violent and nonviolent crimes compared to the national average.

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