A Massachusetts high school wants to call in the National Guard to help quell a 'disturbing increase' in violent fights, drug abuse, and truancy

A Massachusetts high school wants to call in the National Guard to help quell a 'disturbing increase' in violent fights, drug abuse, and truancy
Massachusetts National Guard stand watch during a Black Lives Matter rally.JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images
  • Brockton High, beset by fighting and truancy, is asking for help from the National Guard.
  • School committee members warned of a "potential tragedy" amid a shortage of teachers in the area.

A high school committee in Massachusetts has asked the National Guard for help as it struggles to rein in student violence and drug abuse in its halls.

In a letter to city and state officials sent on Friday, members of the Brockton School Committee warned of a "disturbing rise" in violent incidents and substance abuse amid a staffing shortage in the last few months.

"The situation has reached a critical point, more recently we had an alarming 35 teachers absent, underscoring the severity of the challenges we are facing," the letter read.

Four of the committee's seven members signed the letter, which was published by Boston-based ABC affiliate WCVB-TV and seen by Business Insider.

The four members said Brockton didn't have enough staff to monitor hallways and school exits, allowing for a "noticeable increase" in truancy and trespassing.


"Instances of students wandering the halls, engaging in altercations, and causing disruptions in classrooms have become alarmingly frequent," the letter said.

The committee members asked Gov. Maura Healey for a meeting to discuss the temporary deployment of the National Guard, hoping to rely on its "expertise in crisis management" to prevent a "potential tragedy."

National Guard can be used as hall monitors or substitute teachers, a committee member said

At a press conference on Monday about their call for help, the committee members said the local mayor, Robert Sullivan, had received the letter and forwarded it to Healey.

"We're not asking them to deploy a whole army to our school. We're asking for support," said committee member Ana Oliver. "Especially with the teacher shortage throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

"This isn't something that is negative," said committee member Tony Rodrigues. "The National Guard does bring positivity, we use them to deploy COVID vaccinations."


Rodrigues suggested that National Guard service members or staff be deployed as hall monitors and substitute teachers.

Claudio Gomes, another committee member, said the four weren't necessarily asking to bring armed soldiers into classrooms.

"I know that the first thought that comes to mind when you hear 'National Guard' is uniform and arms," said Gomes. "And that's not the case. They're people like us. They're educated. They're trained, and we just need their assistance right now."

Some officials and parents disagree

The urgent request has received pushback from some local officials and parents.

"Soldiers in military field uniforms aren't the answer," Brockton City Councilor Winthrop Farwell wrote on Facebook on Saturday, saying the committee should solve the issue with an official gathering of teachers to discuss next steps.


Sullivan, Brockton's mayor, said he didn't agree with deploying the National Guard even though he forwarded the committee's letter.

"We need to give our administrators the tools to keep order in the school, including amending certain State rules and regulations that currently hamper these efforts. National Guard soldiers are not the answer," he said in a statement on Monday, per local station Boston 25 News.

"There is no need for the National Guard here, I think the administration should be allowed to administrate," one parent told WCVB-TV.

But another told the outlet such action is necessary. If officials opposed the request, they "need to appropriate funds and get resources for these students to come and study and get an education in a safe environment," said Ana Reyes, whose grandson studies at Brockton, per WCVB-TV.

Brockton High has the largest enrollment in all high schools across Massachusetts, with 3,586 students this academic year, according to state data.


When Healey's office was asked by PBS to comment on the National Guard request, a spokesperson said: "Our administration is committed to ensuring that schools are safe and supportive environments for students, educators, and staff."

Healey's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside regular business hours by Business Insider.