PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A school fight in September forced Pine Bluff High School to close for one day, so staff and administration could regroup and determine a plan that would keep the school environment safe.
On Thursday, September 30, another fight broke out on the campus.
For parents like Leandra Mays, she worries about sending her child to school.
"After being jumped on, a security guard decided he would choke my son for over 20 seconds," Mays said.
She said her son was chased down a hall in the school by a group of teenagers after lunch and things ended with him being surrounded and attacked.
"He was like no teachers were in the hallway and he said every door that he tried to pull on was locked. So he said, 'mama, I had nowhere to go outside of letting them jump on me'," Mays said.
Superintendent of Pine Bluff Schools, Barbara Warren, admits that violence in the district has become an issue since students returned from virtual learning.
"Several have come back and had challenges and we have seen an increase in fights," Warren said.
Enrollment at the high school has dropped to nearly 900 students, so a lot of classrooms have been relocated on the campus.
Warren hopes this effort will mitigate the amount of foot traffic and will make it easier for security officers to respond to situations more swiftly.
"While we always have people who are on duty, we increased three-fold the number of persons and were more strategic about where we would have these persons to be," Warren said.
Moving forward, the district will continue to have an increased police presence on the campus.
They plan to hire licensed officers to assist in the rollout out a new program called the 'OK Program' in a couple weeks.
Warren said this program will allow the licensed officers and others collaborating with the school to mentor and support students.
While Mays said she is hopeful the new program will reduce violence in the schools, she just wants her child to feel safe.
"As a parent, I don't know what to do. I'm just trying to do my best to protect my child and other students as well," Mays said.