MELBOURNE, Fla. - A recent fight at Palm Bay Magnet High School has captured everyone’s attention in Brevard County, from elected leaders to the teachers union and law enforcement.
All say two big problems tied to this are: every kid has a cell phone and the county’s Alternative Learning Centers, where kids with discipline issues can go, are filling up too fast.
Melbourne police officers are looking at the cell phone videos kids took during Tuesday’s brawl. Those videos are spreading on social media and many educators and parents are concerned the buzz will lead to more brutality.
"I’ve heard people calling for students not to have cell phones in school, and things of that nature, but I don’t support that, we need to teach our children to use their phones responsibly," said Tina Descovich, Brevard School Board Member, District 3.
Descovich says if parents want to see the county schools more orderly, there has to be a candid talk in the home.
"This a community problem, a family problem, and students themselves need to own it," Descovich said.
FOX 35 News spoke with the teachers union about Tuesday’s mob. Union leaders say there have been other incidents, that didn’t make the news, that are as alarming. In just the past month, there have been two cases where students who used physical force against teachers were allowed to return to school.
And while the fight at Palm Bay Magnet High was happening yesterday, at another area school at around the same time, a student told classmates that he was going to kill his teacher- his punishment is a two-day suspension.
The Brevard Federation of Teachers released this statement, which read, "Unfortunately our district is not doing enough in the way of mitigating dangerous behavior and what happened at Palm Bay Magnet High is not unique. Students are often suspended and allowed to return to school even for more serious offenses because our alternative learning centers are already full. We used to have three centers until the school board made the decision to close the north area location.”
"We have invested heavily in security cameras and security systems, security specialists, campus monitors, but we cannot be the total solution to the problem," Descovich said.
Police say 11 people were arrested after Monday's fight -including Natasha Johnson, a mother charged with resisting an officer without violence. Police say she arrived after the brawl and was yelling at some of the girls and refused to pipe down.