Revere Public School SRO Officer Joseph Singer Addresses School Fights

At Tuesday’s Revere Public School Committee’s Committee of the Whole meeting, The Revere Police School Resource Officer (SRO) Joseph Singer addressed the five fights between students that have been reported at Revere High School (RHS) since the start of the school year.

School fights have come under the microscope following reports of a string of violent fights at Lawrence schools last week that injured students and staff.

Revere’s SROs work exclusively in the Revere Public Schools with the children. Their responsibilities include interacting with the children on a daily basis, organizing and participating in the Police Athletic League (PAL), ensuring the safe arrival and departure of the children, monitoring the traffic and parking conditions in the area of the schools during arrival and dismissal, meeting with students, parents and teachers regarding juvenile, non-school disciplinary matters, and actively involve themselves in the Revere Police Gang Unit, including gang prevention.

Committee member Michael Ferrante started off, “We just saw what happened in Lawrence with a situation that got totally out of control. I know it’s not that bad (in Revere) but I’m just saying, this is what’s going on. Is there anything that we can do to try to prevent some of this from happening?”

Officer Singer responded that school administrators have to keep in mind that this is only month two of the school year after 18 months of no school for nearly all Revere students.

“We got to shake off the cobwebs a little bit,” said Singer. “We had a few incidents but nothing different than any other year. These are going to get worked out and the kids just need to get back into the groove. We have some outlets for them after school. We have more stuff going on for them. We have a basketball program that I run on Wednesday. We just started a boxing program for the kids. So we’re just, we’re creating more outlets, we’re creating more stuff for the kids–diversion program stuff for them to do after school. I’m here every day. If you guys have a question just bring it to me, personally, I’m here. If I tell you I’m concerned, then we’ll be concerned but as of right now this is no different than any other year. We have been gone for 18 months and these kids just need to get back into the groove of things and it’s gonna come with time.”

Singer added that some of the kids involved in the five reported fights had no closure with middle school and have thrusted into high school and are trying to figure things out.

“I don’t want to say kids will be kids but they had no middle school,” he said. “They went right from middle school right into high school so it’s going to take a little while for them to adjust.”

Rumors aside, Singer said all the fights have been isolated incidents among individuals having disagreements with one another.

“This isn’t like a turf war,” he said.

Committee member Stacey A. Rizzo said, “You hear rumors that there’s multiple people fighting and so on and so forth so it’s good to clarify. We just need to work on the social emotional needs of these kids and that’s the big, big step right now.”

RHS Principal Dr. John Perella echoed some of Officer Singer’s points.

“I think we need to put in context, the fact that our community has suffered a tremendous amount of trauma,” said Dr. Perella. “Schools, in a lot of ways, are based on routines and the practice of school as much as it is the content that’s learned in school. For at least half of our population, they never had any experience in high school. A lot of them had no closure to middle school. There are a lot of challenges with bringing these students back into a structure that they haven’t really been in for a long time. Having said that, you know, to date, we’ve had five fights. I think one of the challenging things in our present time is that these things are amplified through social media. Officer Singer mentioned five fights, at this point it is not acceptable and it’s not something that we condone. However, it’s not that unique from previous years. At this point we are engaging with students on a multitude of levels. We’re having numerous family meetings every day to bring families in to help us resolve and address some of these concerns.”

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