Police and school officials say a policy to curb fighting on campus
by issuing citations to students has been an effective deterrent.
It was two years ago that police adopt a “zero-toler- ance” policy
for fighting at schools, Sgt. William Berry said. Rather than issue a
warning and allow the school to handle discipline by suspending
students, Berry said police began issuing citations to any student
involved in a fight.
Depending on the severity of the fight, students may be charged
with disturbing the peace or some type of assault.
“The reason is to get them into court so a judge can explain the
consequences of their actions,” he said.
The first time a student is cited, they are usually sent with
their parents to Pasadena informal court, Berry said. There, they
meet with a judge outside of a courtroom and are warned about the
potential consequences of future incidents, he said. A judge can also
provide counseling and even order the child to attend, something
Berry said parents are often grateful for.
Because the types of citations police issue vary, Berry said it is
difficult to calculate the effects on the total number of fights, but
he believes it has reduced such incidents.
Burroughs High School Principal Emilio Urioste said the policy has
been a strong deterrent.
“Word gets around,” he said. “Once it affects a student, they
start talking and become aware of it.”
Urioste said parents are also aware of the policy, and the threat
of having to go to court often makes them more inclined to intervene
if their child is causing trouble.
Officer Dan Turpin, school resource officer at John Muir Middle
School, said that any time students get in trouble, their primary
concern is not getting their parents involved.
School resource officers try to make sure all students know they
will be cited any time they are involved in a fight, Turpin said.
While it may not keep a student from getting into their first fight,
he said it prevents many from getting into a second.
“The whole idea is just so we can educate kids for the future,” he
said. “It informs them that next time they need to find another
solution instead of fighting.”