Southwest High School Neighbors Say "Enough"

FiresDisasters and AccidentsJohn Murphy

Neighbors of Southwest High School say that they have had enough after another day of firetrucks and police cars in their neighborhood.

Officials with the Kansas City Fire Department say they've received 50 calls since the school year began; 14 have been for actual fires at the school at 65th and Wornal in Brookside.

Neighbors say that's disturbing, but what's worse are the not-so publicized problems.

Beverly Wilson and her husband moved to Brookside seven years ago right next to Southwest High School. Wilson says that when it was a small college-prep school, there were no problems.

"You didn't really know the kids were there," Wilson says.

Last year, the district consolidated several schools into this one.

"There's been activity at the school that wasn't usually there in the form of police cars, fire engines," Wilson explains.

On Friday the fire engines and police were back. School officials say three fires were set in the building.

Reports say a fight broke out in the meantime, and eight students were detained by police.

John Murphy remembers the neighborhood's effort to make it a success.

"They painted, they cleaned, they spackled, they weeded the yard," Murphy says.

A few weeks later he says it was clear their work didn't help.

"We've seen fights, we've seen a riot on the front lawn on the third week of school...It sounds like a really bad movie. It was a nightmare," Murphy says.

Neighbors say they've seen kids skip class to roam the neighborhood even end up inside nearby homes uninvited.

"I feel like I am so glad we have a deadbolt and use it," Wilson says.

They blame the district for not doing enough to stop the chaos.

District spokesman Michael Rounds responded to Friday's incidents with a statement:

"The school staff, and a supportive community, will continue to work closely with parents and students to identify those who seek to prevent our young people from improving themselves through education."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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FiresDisasters and AccidentsJohn Murphy