Office of School Safety says prevention is key for safety | #schoolsaftey

MILWAUKEE — Samara Summers and Joy Lopez were two of the students at a basketball game between Wauwatosa West and East High Schools when a fight broke out at halftime and led to chaos as students rushed out of the gym.

Afterward, students described the scene to TMJ4.

“People are like storming over people,” said Samara Summers. “Then people were saying someone pulled out a gun during the fight.”

The school district and police said there was no evidence of a weapon. But for a generation of students used to hearing about school shootings, the threat felt real.

“It’s honestly not shocking to me. I mean, it’s scary. That shouldn’t be happening, but I feel like I’m so used to hearing, ‘Oh this school is going to get shot up.'”

She also said she’s used to fights at school.

“Fights break out a lot,” she told TMJ4 on Tuesday night.

On September 10, 2022, TMJ4 reported that four students were arrested after fights during a Wauwatosa East football game.On September 14, 2022 police responded to Wauwatosa West for a physical fight between six students. Earlier this year in February arrests were made after a fight between students and a parent at East. Last night, four people were arrested following the fight at West.

Director of the Office of School Safety Trish Kilpin said, “Students continue to be impacted by feelings that they might not be safe at school.

The Office of School Safety works to prevent incidents of violence at schools from happening in the first place.

“We know that students themselves often have information that the adults do not have,” Kilpin said. “If someone is concerned enough with a peer conflict or a grievance or an upset that they’re considering utilizing violence, then we promote talking to a trusted adult.”

Students can also report threats or concerns of violence through Speak Up, Speak Out Wisconsin (SuSo). Kilpin said 200 reports were made to SuSo this year.

“We can intervene successfully to prevent violence from happening in those instances,” she said of the tips that come to SuSo.

The Wauwatosa School District promotes SuSo according to its website. The school board also passed 10 new or revised policies regarding safety and discipline earlier this year.

However, the school board and the Mayor of Wauwatosa declined interviews to discuss safety in their schools and community and if the policies are working.

Kilpin said, “We can always do more across our nation to commit the resources that are needed in order to help our schools be safe.”

She shared she was disappointed to see funding was not included in the state’s last budget to help continue programs in the Office of School Safety.

“We were very disappointed that in the last biennial budget, that we did not get funding for the office of school safety to continue our best practice programs that we know work to prevent violence in our schools,” Kilpin said.

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