Ed. note: The following was submitted by a recent graduate of Vallejo schools who is writing under a pseudonym.
By Cassandra Griego
The district has been named in a lawsuit by the family of a murdered child (October 28) and in response, Superintendent Ramona Bishop accepted an award for “Educator of the Year” at a business mixer in a Fairfield car dealership (November 17).
The Vallejo City Unified School District’s continued expectation and casual acceptance of unspeakable violence on school campuses is beyond disturbing.
A few years ago, one of the local TV stations did a news segment on a girl who had been beaten into a coma at a Vallejo middle school. They interviewed a district administrator who explained that children in Vallejo stage these fights in order to post them on YouTube. She suggested that the beaten girl was a willing participant. Her attitude was eerily disturbing–her thinking seemed to be that since it was possible that some children may have staged fights and posted them on YouTube, any fight that was posted on YouTube was staged and of no concern to her. Nothing about it seemed right.
Some of it was right, however. A search for “vallejo fight” on youtube yielded a plethora of fight videos involving children at Vallejo schools. Most did not seem staged; they were violent and brutal.. Even the one that seemed planned was incredibly brutal. (In the video, a large group of middle school children jostled each other playfully, giggling, while they waited for something to happen. Two girls shyly hid their faces from the camera, as the camera person tried to engage them in banter. And then suddenly, the two shy girls began mercilessly beating each other.) Several high school fights were shot by the same camera man, who would gleefully egg on the participants. Then, at the end of each recording, he would turn the camera to his own face and shout some comment with a crazed look on his face. He was easily recognizable as were many of the fighters and spectators.
Some of it wasn’t right. None of these videos depicted playacting. They depicted brutal fights. The fights happened on school campuses, sometimes in actual classrooms. The reactions of the spectators ranged from bored observation to avid glee. Most disturbingly, Vallejo School administrators knew this was happening.They not only took no action, they used it as justification to absolve themselves from any responsibility for any of the horrific violence.
It would be reasonable to expect that the murder of a child on school grounds during the school day would jolt the District into taking action, but this is not so: The district has been named in a lawsuit by the family of the murdered child (October 28) and in response, Superintendent Ramona Bishop accepted an award for “Educator of the Year” at a business mixer held in a Fairfield car dealership (November 17).
What will it take for these people to take responsibility and begin protecting children?