Minneapolis-St. Paul Struggles with Spate of School Violence


In St. Paul, Minnesota, a loaded gun was found in a student’s backpack — a discovery that came after three days of unusually violent behavior in the city’s public high schools.

Josh Verges and Tad Vezner, write for Pioneer Press that teachers have been hurt while breaking up fights, and a police officer found it necessary to use a Taser  on a student who would not leave the school grounds.

Superintendent Valeria Silva and school principals were part of a news conference this week to discuss the incidents. Silva reported that she understood that students who are burdened with poverty and mental health problems bring those issues to school.

“It’s a pretty sad day for me as superintendent … to be standing here talking about issues of violence,” she said.

Harding High School Principal Doug Revsbeck stated that a teacher called the school office to report that there was a marijuana smell in the classroom. After a search of the student’s backpack, a gun and marijuana were found. Revsbeck said no one was threatened or hurt.

Rapid News Network reported that Revsbeck sent a letter to families which said:

“As far as we know there was no intent to use the weapon in the building, but that investigation is continuing”.

Police arrested the student. But administrators say that the beginning of the school year can be volatile because of new personalities colliding and that things calm down as the school year progresses.

At Central High School on the same day, a school resource officer tased a student who disrupted class and refused to leave the premises. Principal Mary Mackbee noted that he was asked over 15 times to leave, but “the young man, for some reason, just lost it and lost control.”

And Principal Theresa Neal of Como Park High School added that there had been six fights at her school this week. An altercation on Tuesday resulted in the injury of one of her teachers. Como Park administrators did not notify parents of the incidents.

Silva stated at the press conference that the district was working alongside police to improve the issue and that schools were safe at this time.

“As a grandparent of kids who go to St. Paul public schools, safety is a priority in this district,” she said.

Critics of Silva’s strategy, including teachers, say the administration needs to do something different, according to KARE-TV Minneapolis/St. Paul. But school officials say new students and community problems are the reasons for the recent troubles. But Como Park teacher Roy Magnuson disagrees.

“We have made the goal of reducing suspensions instead of changing behaviors,” he said.

The St. Paul School District uses suspensions as a last resort unless behavior is violent.

As for the incident that occurred at Humbolt High School, KSTP-TV reported it included as many as 40 students last Friday inside the school building. A teacher who was trying to stop fighting was knocked down and kicked while still on the ground. Police officers cited nine students who participated in the rumble.

The Humbolt principal sent a letter home to parents stating that a “disruption” at school involving “several students” occurred and that three students were arrested.