Dear Englewood Schools Community,
This is a follow-up to my previous letter addressing the news that has been circulating in the media regarding “Fight Clubs” or incidents of fights at Englewood Middle School.
I want to make very clear that there is no fight club at Englewood Middle School. Administrators at EMS were made aware of a social media page that contained four videos of fights that had happened over time at EMS. Within 18 hours of an administrator becoming aware of the site on Thursday, it was shut down. This site is now what the media is referring to as “Englewood Fight Club”. We do not approve of or condone the posting of videos of disturbing incidents online. In addition to being detrimental to the overall safety and well-being of our school community, this can be considered, or lead to, cyberbullying.
While this was a place where videos were posted, we have not found anything that indicates students were encouraged or provoked to fight. There have been some concerning incidents at the middle school this school year but we do not believe that these incidents that were posted to the site are connected. Each one was the result of an individual disagreement or conflict between students and each incident resulted in disciplinary and/or legal action for the students who had violated our code of conduct or state laws.
I understand that it is concerning for parents to hear about these incidents, especially as they have been erroneously portrayed in the media. I want to let you know exactly what we are doing in order to help our middle school students handle conflicts without resorting to violence or cyberbullying.
Today, we doubled the amount of adult supervision and security personnel that are present in hallways during passing periods and inside and outside during lunch periods. This change will remain in place through the end of the school year. Teachers and other adults have been asked to remind students to come to them with any problems or issues they are having so that an adult can help solve the problem before it escalates. Any security staff who have not yet received non-violent crisis intervention training will receive that training by the end of the week.
We know that the vast majority of our students want to be part of safe and caring school communities. On Friday, April 6, the day after the posted videos were discovered, EMS had a full school assembly to address issues around unsafe behavior. At this assembly, students were encouraged to be safe in everyday life and on social media. We will be implementing specific, additional curriculum that addresses bullying and cyberbullying beginning as early as next week. We are already in the process of implementing Restorative Practices to help students work through conflicts in non-violent and restorative ways. For the students who choose to engage in bullying, fighting, or who violate the conduct code in any way, as always they will have consequences including, but not limited to, detention, suspension, and potential police involvement and legal action. At the same time, students who engage in cyberbullying, including using social media to distribute disturbing videos and pictures of other students, will also face the same consequences as described above. We believe it’s important to allow cell phones for safety reasons and for parent/student communication. However, we will be tightening our procedures with regard to cell phone use at school.
Finally, we will be engaging with community partners to bring educational resources to the families of students to help adults know how to monitor what their students post and view on social media, and when and how to intervene.
I truly believe that Englewood Schools is a wonderful, caring community. I appreciate the feedback we have received from parents regarding this issue, and want you to know we are moving forward swiftly to ensure a safe and happy experience for all students.
Wendy Rubin, Ed.D.