Two weeks ago, two girls at Johnson High in St. Paul started scrapping over whether one had stolen from the other.
Nearby staff squeezed in to intervene as other students watched. Teacher John Fischbach managed to pull the students apart, but as he held one girl back, a male student attacked from behind and punched him in the head.
The student was upset that Fischbach had put his hands on the girls, according to St. Paul Police.
Cops say no injuries were reported, and it’s not clear yet if anyone involved in the mini-brawl will be charged.
But teachers say the incident is emblematic of how disruption and violence has gotten out of control since Superintendent Valeria Silva took over the St. Paul schools in 2009 with a focus on reducing suspensions for minority students.
The goal was to reduce discrepancies in suspensions between white and black students. Yet teachers believe that in the name of better stats, Silva enacted discipline policies that effectively gave students a free pass when they cussed out staff or bullied their peers. As a result, these problems have ballooned into several high-profile assaults this year.
Last fall, massive fights involving dozens of students broke out at Como Park and Humboldt High. A student brought a gun to Harding High because he felt unsafe. A Central High teacher trying to break up a fight got thrown into a table and choked unconscious. Just last week, a Como Park teacher was shoved to the ground by two students who interrupted his class mid-lesson to go after one of his kids.
But in a recent interview with MPR, Superintendent Valeria Silva insisted that her schools are safe.
Teachers are circulating a petition to push for her resignation. It's risen to 484 signatures since Friday afternoon.