C-SD’s Principal Bromwell tells of behavior issues

Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Principal Dave Bromwell

CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge-South Dorchester High School Principal Dave Bromwell shared his views Friday on challenges being faced related to students’ acts of violence. C-SD, and other public schools in the county, have been struggling to remedy the situation as arrests and injuries have occurred in recent weeks.

On Thursday, there was an incident at the high school that, while Mr. Bromwell said was not a fight, resulted in law enforcement being called. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office responded, and were assisted by officers from the Cambridge Police Department.

Asked if there had been arrests, Mr. Bromwell said he was constrained by the law as to what details he could reveal. “We had some students that were involved with the police, yes,” he said. “We had some disorderly youths.”

He said his staff has been active in addressing problems before they escalate. “We’ve kept a whole bunch of things from happening,” Mr. Bromwell said.

Some aspects of the troubling behavior are considered normal in parts of the local community, Mr. Bromwell said, adding, “That’s pretty scary.”

He said he would like to see churches become more involved, noting that there are 13 churches within a 2.5-mile radius of C-SD, and they are not speaking up. “It’s just not happening,” he said.

Some students seem to feel that fighting – and, importantly, getting on video fighting – elevates their status. “It’s almost like a badge of honor,” Mr. Bromwell said.

He noted that in his view, some confrontations do not happen in spite of students’ being in school, they happen because they are in school. This is because, Mr. Bromwell said, they know teachers will jump in the middle of things and break it up, before anyone gets badly hurt.

This week got off to a difficult start at C-SD, with a fight between two boys at first lunch, around 10:30 a.m. It took as many as seven others, witnesses said, to break up the fight.

A video shared immediately on social media shows one boy leaning over, legs splayed, raining punches on another. A “stay in place” was announced to teachers via email.

In an additional conversation on Monday morning, Mr. Bromwell stressed the difference between a “stay in place” and a “lockdown”. He said a lockdown would have involved a more active response from faculty and law enforcement to a very serious incident, which he said this was not.

The principal said one of the new challenges being faced at C-SD is the use of social media by students, who have their phones in school. Challenges, insults, and scheduled fights can be shared quickly via text, making it all the more difficult for the staff to teach and maintain order.

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