NEW BRITAIN, CT (WFSB) - New Britain High School students will return to the classroom on Thursday despite a district decision that had been made to go remote for the rest of the week.
Also, The Consolidated School District of New Britain said it will hold a town hall to discuss the latest updates to its schools, which will include information related to remote learning. It's set for 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
According to Mayor Erin Stewart's office, it was violence that led to the decision to go remote.
Stewart said on Wednesday that she had been informed of the decision by the district.
She issued a statement on social media:
Everyone knows by now the decision was made to close New Britain high school for the remainder of the week. My office was informed by the school district that this decision was made because of recent issues in controlling student behavior, specifically vandalism and fighting.
I’m disappointed in this decision, it’s not fair to the majority of students who behave respectfully and want to be in school to learn.
Everyone has a “solution”, but what it comes down to is the fact that there are no consequences for bad behavior, and this is the end result. The board of education must make finding a solution to this problem their highest priority. I offer my help as well as the help of the New Britain Police Department.
If the school district cannot get these behavior problems under control, then they need to find new and more effective leadership who can.
Our students deserve to learn in a safe environment, our parents deserve the comfort knowing that their child is safe in school, and our teachers deserve a safe space to educate.
Those who do not follow the rules should be given REAL consequences, including being removed from the school, plain and simple.
The school district said it needed a “reset," and had planned to be remote for the rest of the week.
However, Stewart said on Wednesday morning that New Britain High School students will return to the classroom on Thursday and Friday for half days.
Pupil services employees had an explanation.
“We are under direction of the State Department of Education we also have to follow the laws that have come out that protect students,” Donnah Swaby the District Coordinator of Special Education said. “The state did a lot of research around juvenile justice, around what actually causes a change in behavior all of that research tells us that punitive measure doesn’t necessarily correct behavior.”
Her office confirmed that the State Dept. of Education told the school to resume classes, and that if they went remote this week, those days would not count and would have to be made up at the end of the school year. Dept. of Education officials told the district that concerns over behavior were not a valid reason to go to remote learning.
District officials said a combination of several incidents at the school led them to make the decision to go remote.
"We’re a public school, we are obligated to serve every student who walks in that door and I'm proud to have that mission and so we just needed this time to put in thoughtful, targeted plans to help support those students," Principal Damon Pearce said on Wednesday.
School leaders have identified 50 to 70 students who have been causing problems and will face discipline, ranging from counseling to expulsion. They're also working on putting together plans for those students for the rest of the year and reaching out to their families.
A letter went out to parents on Tuesday that explained the reset was because some students haven’t been able to adjust to the school's expectations.
School officials said on Wednesday afternoon that the one-day closure gave staff time to come up with a plan to address the problems.
"Our goal wasn't really to disrupt, it was to ensure the safety of every student here at New Britain High," said Superintendent Nancy Sarra.
In the letter to students and families on Tuesday, Principal Damon Pearce explained the past 14 days have been an adjustment for some in that they had to get used to being around more than 2,000 students again so:
..building administrators and support staff can identify those students who are struggling to adjust to NBHS expectations and develop programming for them in preparation for a full return.
A new TikTok challenge shows teenagers damaging parts of their schools, like bathrooms and locker rooms.
The move came just five days after the superintendent sent out a letter about New Britain High School students taking part in a TikTok trend.
The trend encouraged students to record themselves stealing and damaging school property.
“You’ve got stuff like people vandalizing the school and stuff like that. It’s just nonsense," said New Britain High student Marcus Caccio.
Some students echoed the sentiment that the reset felt like a setback.
"It’s my last year so it’s just sucks to see like all the immaturity of the kids and for that to be the reason that we’re going back remote," Caccio said.
Caccio said he has seen videos of students trying the challenge.
“There was a video going around that there was a monitor from the lunchroom stolen and then there was a sink that was also stolen [that] I’ve heard of," Caccio explained.
Also in the letter that went out to families, the principal asked parents to talk to their children about acceptable and appropriate behavior in school.
Channel 3 reached out to the school district and asked if New Britain police responded to any of the incidents. It said it could not comment on that, but did add it has a school resource officer that responds to incidents in the school.