CHELTENHAM Twp., Pa. (CBS) — Hundreds of concerned parents, students and community members packed into Cheltenham High School’s auditorium Monday night.
The crowd called for change after four female students were charged in a violent brawl caught on video on May 3. In all, eight teachers were hurt breaking up two fights at the school that day.
“We, the students, have been blamed for creating this climate, and although we can accept some responsibility, we cannot bear everything on our shoulders,” said Paige Kytzidis, president of student council.
Kytzidis received a standing ovation for her remarks demanding more counseling and mental health services for students.
“We have never gotten a reaction like this, despite all the circumstances and all the altercations, where quite frankly students have been injured and no one has done anything,” she said. “Or students have clearly been neglected because they’re fighting or because they say they need help and no one has done anything and now they decide to do something.”
Superintendent Dr. Wagner Marseille vowed to implement a number of changes, including increased security in the hallways and cafeteria, alternative learning programs and counseling for students, plus a full time assistant superintendent at the school.
Parent Markee Terry, whose own daughter has been disciplined for fighting, wants to take it even further.
“They do not have a stationary police officer here like Abington and other townships do,” he said. “They need that ASAP.”
Despite the black eye that these fights have placed on the school, many parents said they were encouraged by the meeting’s turnout and the district’s swift response.
“I just am really, really grateful to live in this community, where we acknowledge the problems that need to be addressed and then we go to work to fix them,” said parent Donna Moser.
The school district is working to have all the changes implemented by the next school year.