Safety concerns were mounting on Friday after several weapons were found inside Boston schools Thursday, including a meat cleaver, two knives and a taser.
No one was hurt, but parents were outraged and wondering how the potentially dangerous items ended up in schools to begin with.
At the Condon School in South Boston, a middle school student was found with a knife, school officials said. In a letter sent home to parents, the school said no students or staff were injured.
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School staff confiscated the knife, and the student could face disciplinary action.
At the City on a Hill Charter School in Roxbury, Boston police said a 16-year-old girl was facing criminal charges, after she allegedly waived a meat cleaver, kitchen knife and a taser at another female student, following a fight in the girls bathroom.
The incident at the Condon School wasn't the first in recent months, though. Last school year, live ammunition was found in a bathroom in the Condon School.
"Sending them here it’s just, I'm always thinking of what’s going on while they’re here," Condon school parent Nisha Ware said. "This isn't the first incident this year so it’s nerve-racking."
Ware and another mother named Salesa Obudho worry about their children going to James Condon school in South Boston.
"I'm always thinking of what's going on while they're here," Ware said.
"Every day [there's] something new, you know, a knife, bullet, people just go in, it's just scary," said Obudho.
At James Condon, two cases of weapons found on campus were reported last year, according to DESE. But prior to then, the last incident was in the 2016-2017 school year. At City On A Hill, seven cases of weapons in school last year, compared to just four cases total in the previous five years.
Overall, Boston Public Schools reported 165 incidents of confiscated weapons in the 2021-2022 school year, the highest rate since 2016.
BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper wants to ensure students go to an adult if they see something wrong.
"With everything that's happened with the pandemic, our students themselves are very dysregulated," said BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper. "They're not feeling safe."
Skipper said other tools are being used to increase school safety. So far, 22 of Boston's public schools have chosen to install metal detectors. There are 26 of them in total throughout the district.
BPS is also investing in security cameras.
Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn has been pushing for police to be brought back into Boston schools, a proposal that has gotten pushback.
"We desperately need to deal with it and that will take making sure we get mental health counselors, social workers in our schools, but we also need a public safety presence in our public schools, as well," Flynn said.
"School police play a critical role in our schools and I'm advocating to bring them back."
Rev. Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democracy Coalition in Boston, agrees with Flynn on bringing back school police, having more metal detectors, and getting parents to check their children's bags.
"The school department must be a protector of the children while they're in school," said Peterson. "But the parents must be a protector to the extent that they ensure that their children don't bring weapons to the school to harm other children or the teachers."
But he added that the city needs a more effective solution.
"There is no strategy or practice or protocol in place that's clear to the community that says, 'This is what we're doing to protect the children in the schools,'" said Peterson.
Boston City Councilor for District 7 Tania Fernandes Anderson, who presides over Roxbury, said the past strategies haven't been enough.
"I don't have the answers, and neither does anyone, obviously," she admitted. "We talk about these solutions in a reactionary way."
She asks the public for patience while the council works on a more substantial plan.
"We will have to be more honest about 'Are we really investing our finances and our resources that are necessary?'" she said.
The Boston Teachers Union and several other organizations put out a statement last month strongly opposed to putting police back in schools – arguing it will only criminalize and traumatize Black and brown students.
Fernandes Anderson said the Boston City Council will be meeting in the coming days to discuss the issue.