Brockton High School in chaos as student fights bring injuries – Enterprise News

BROCKTON — Cheri Mazzoli, a secretary at Brockton High School, said a few weeks ago there was a fight down the hall from her office on the second floor of the school’s Red building.

She said she stepped outside her office to see where the commotion was coming from so she could call for help.

“The crowd came down the hall so quickly that I got swept up, not by the students fighting, but by the students that were rushing to watch and video the fight,” she said at Wednesday night’s special school committee meeting about security and safety inside Brockton High.

“I was pushed into a locker. I was then pushed into a wall and stepped on,” she continued. She said her boss quickly pulled her out of the crowd and into a nearby classroom.

“We are in chaos. We need help,” she said.

“Unfortunately, staff now feels it’s only a matter of time before someone dies in our hallway,” she said.

Mazzoli was one of many teachers, students and parents at Wednesday’s packed meeting who recounted scenes of violence and chaos in the hallways of BHS.

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Teacher’s arm broken breaking up fight

Cliff Canavan, a Brockton High School math teacher and cross country coach, had his left arm broken in December 2023 breaking up a fight outside the high school. At Wednesday’s meeting, he emotionally said he has “dedicated my life to Brockton High School,” but now he gets nervous when he goes to work.

He said that during the fight, a student was on the ground unconscious getting kicked in the head repeatedly. He restrained the aggressor before getting attacked from behind by a third person.

“My focus was on those kids’ safety,” he said to the Brockton School Committee. “Where’s the focus on ours?”

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Mazzoli said multiple fights break out almost every day. The week prior on Jan. 26, a student was sent to the hospital by ambulance after receiving injuries in a fight.

“That was a brutal assault,” said Brockton Mayor and School Committee Chair Robert Sullivan at the meeting.

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Vaping marijuana, unmonitored doors, having sex in empty classrooms

But violence wasn’t the only issue that BHS teachers and staff face while at work. Teachers and students described kids vaping or smoking cannabis in the building; dealing drugs; students letting people into the building through unmonitored doors and leaving campus during the school day.

Although administrators estimated in the fall that only 100 to 200 students are engaging in this behavior, BHS teacher Eleri Merrikin said it’s more likely between 300 and 700 students.

Merrikin said teachers need to be given keys so they can lock their classrooms. Students are going in and vandalizing them and stealing things, she said.

“They’re having sex and doing drugs and cutting class in empty classrooms,” Merrikin said at the meeting.

Plus, students play “ding, dong, ditch” in classrooms by kicking in doors along with verbally abusing teachers, according to Kim Gibson, president of the Brockton Education Association, the union that represents BPS teachers and paraprofessionals.

“Having no consequences for this and other unacceptable behavior is part of the overall issue,” Gibson said.

“It’s the new normal,” said Martin Feroli, a BHS guidance counselor.

Feroli said people asks him if the chaos at Brockton High School is as bad as they’ve heard.

“I say, ‘no, it’s much, much worse’,” Feroli said.

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Teachers afraid to come to work, be in hallways

Julie Fairfield, a math teacher at BHS, said she suffers from PTSD and anxiety.

“I have this last month been one of those teachers who has called out probably twice a week because I can’t do it,” she said through tears during Wednesday’s meeting. “I work so hard because I want to be there for my kids. But I’m so afraid of them seeing my trauma.”

“It just breaks my heart. I don’t even know who to call anymore. I don’t know who to contact. There seems to be no structure,” she said.

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Mazzoli said that after getting swept up in the crowd watching the fight a few weeks ago, she’s now afraid to be in her office on the second floor of Brockton High’s red building. She said she gets nervous in the hallways and around large crowds.

“It’s not so much as for the physical trauma as the emotional trauma,” she said.

She said on Wednesday there was another fight.

“I heard the helplessness in my boss’ voice on the radio because he saw it happen,” Mazzoli said.

The Brockton School Committee said they’ll look at the district’s cell phone and drug policies at their next regular meeting on Feb. 6 to see what changes they can make to help the situation in the high school.

“Either take action or watch the rest of BHS fall,” said Brockton High senior Shamara Tavares at Wednesday’s meeting.


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