ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Public schools in Alexandria, Virginia are suffering the consequences of removing police from campus as they’re grappling with numerous fights and brawls between students this year. Parents and teachers are blaming the city council after they voted to remove school resource officers (SRO) in May.
Videos are being posted to social media showing the frenzied melees that are occurring at both the middle and high school campuses.
“I think not having them there has made it, I hate to say, almost a free-for-all,” a local mother, Jennifer Rohrbach, told ABC7.
Rohrbach has a 14-year-old daughter who attends Alexandria City High School. She believes the violence would be repressed if SROs returned to help keep order.
“We’re willing to compromise. We’re looking to work together. We’re not trying to insist that our way is the only way,” Rohrbach added.
Once school was back in session, it didn’t take long for wayward students to realize the police were absent. One of the videos shared to social media showed a brawl in the cafeteria of Alexandria City High School just two days into the new school year, Fox News reported.
“This was going to happen,” one ACHS parent told ALXnow at the time. “Take away the police from inside schools and you’re going to see people get hurt.”
After a year of protests and calls to defund the police, the Alexandria City Council caved in May and decided to remove SROs from campus, and reallocate $800,000 in funding to hire mental health counselors.
Nevertheless, as violence has erupted in the absence of SROs, no counselors have been hired, ABC7 reported.
Superintendent of Schools Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. was blunt when addressing the city leaders.
“I’m pleading with the City Council this evening that we reinstate our school resource officers immediately,” Hutchings said last week at a city council hearing.
Parents held a rally in late September demanding a return of the SROs to campus. The movement occurred after a shooting took place just a few blocks from Alexandria High School and injured a student.
“We’re out here today because we are parents and citizens who are concerned about mounting violence in Alexandria schools,” parent Liz Fuller told ABC 7 at the time. “There’s been brutal fights, where administrators and security guards have gotten pushed down along with the students.”