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Pittsfield Superintendent Addresses Tuesday Taconic Fight
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:26AM / Friday, October 01, 2021
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A screenshot from a video posted to YouTube of the fight that also resulted in injuries to two administrators.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Following a fighting incident at Taconic High School on Tuesday, Superintendant Joseph Curtis released a letter and video assuring Pittsfield Public School families that there is no tolerance for violence in the district

"If students fight in any of the Pittsfield Public Schools they will be suspended for up to 10 days, or if warranted a longer-term suspension of 45 to 60 days," Curtis said in the communication.

"During this suspension will provide work and tutoring if necessary, we will also require a family meeting that will include the creation of a restorative plan, a plan to help the offending students make right with each person involved and most importantly, with the rest of the school community for violating the peace and sanctity of the school."

He added that if cases warrant it, the district may require an examination of alternative education outside of PPS and will involve the Pittsfield Police Department and possibly file charges if needed.

A 30-second YouTube video posted on Tuesday showed three students kicking and punching each other in Taconic's hallways. One of the students was thrown by their hair to the ground and the other two students punched and kicked them while down.

In the video, two staff members quickly intervened, it appears that one of them suffered a hit to the face.  The other staff member fell to the ground before separating the brawl.

It was identified later that two administrators were injured in the fight but it was not if they were the reacting staff members from the video.

There was commotion from surrounding students in the background of the recording and other staff members came to the scene to help.

"I'd also like to stress that any student that films a fight or an altercation in our schools will initially receive up to five days of school suspension," Curtis said in regards to the video. "To honor such heinous acts with video and posting those same videos publicly will not be tolerated."

He urged parents, guardians, and caregivers to have a discussion with their child or children and stress the need for peace and order each day.

Curtis said that just five weeks into the school year, PPS has had fights in its secondary schools requiring direct physical intervention from staff, faculty, and administrators.

The PPD told another media outlet that they received service calls to Taconic four times on Tuesday.

"I want to be absolutely clear, this type of behavior is not acceptable in our homes, it's not acceptable in our community, and it's certainly not acceptable in any one of our schools, we will not tolerate talk of violence, hate speech, or the kind of verbalization including cursing, that leads to fighting," He asserted.

"The work our students do during their K to 12 education is foundational to a healthy economically stable life, their work is too important to have students involved in fighting or having their own health and concentration disturbed by others fighting because the stakes are so high, the potential for injury so great."

He clarified that students who engage in fighting behavior or urge a fight to take place or continue will suffer consequences such as suspension, being moved to alternate programs, and be involved with the police if necessary.

At Wednesday's school committee meetings, members of the panel addressed the incident.

"It was just very disheartening to see what is going on, I know our administration team, our community's going to be on top of this," Mark Brazeau said.  "I did review the video that was sent out last night, and I hope things will rectify as quick as possible but it's definitely something that cannot happen in our school systems and I know we have full support moving forward, but it's just very disheartening to see what's happening and I hope this gets rectified pretty quickly."

Daniel Elias credited Curtis for immediately addressing the fight and being transparent about issues.

"To say what happened yesterday was ugly would be an understatement," He said. "I think the absolute number one priority for students and staff is to feel safe, anytime parents or staff, contemplate districting out because of behavior like this it's a shame."

William Cameron disclosed that two administrators were injured in the fight.

"Two administrators were injured in the, in the melee and I'm not sure how many members of the student body there or ar any other school in Massachusetts are aware of the fact that a battery of school personnel is grounds for expulsion from the school," He said.

"We're dealing with a serious problem here, and I know that there is concern on the part of parents, certainly for the safety of their students in our schools, I know that there is a concern on the part of teachers, administrators, and other members of the staff at the schools where there have been incidents of this sort."

He asked for a presentation at the next committee meeting that addresses the problems the district is facing and how they will deal with them.

Chairman Katherine Yon said there will be something of that manor on the next meeting's agenda.  She spoke to the need for helping troubled students while keeping the school safe.

"We certainly have to look into the causes for this, why are these fights breaking out, how do we keep everyone safe, how do we get these students returned to school, ultimately, how do we look at our restoration policies, there are many things we have to look at here." she said.

"We know one thing, that this not who we are, it's not who we want to be, and we are going to stop it, we're going to look at the causes or look at the ways that we can help the situation, we can help troubled students, we want to keep our schools safe that is our priority and that will always be our priority."

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