Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As fights continue at John Hopkins Middle, Pinellas school superintendent exhorts parents

ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas school district and the parents of John Hopkins Middle School students "must stand together and deliver the clear message" that unruly behavior won't be tolerated, superintendent Julie Janssen said in a message to parents Thursday.

The letter followed a Tuesday story in the St. Petersburg Times that described chaotic disruptions at the school this year, including frequent brawls and the arrest of more than 60 students.

"Let me say that it is imperative that we do everything in our power to maintain an environment where teachers can teach and students can learn," Janssen wrote in a letter that was given to students to take home.

The superintendent said she has instructed administrators to "be more visible at all times in targeted areas of the campus" and noted a new behavior specialist will be joining the staff. She said she and deputy superintendent Jim Madden will meet with the school advisory council next week to "update you on where we will be going from here."

The letter did not note a School Board directive — issued with urgency Tuesday — that the district immediately find ways to more quickly remove chronically disruptive students from Hopkins and other schools.

"It should have been mentioned," said board member Linda Lerner.

Meanwhile, police had another busy day at the St. Petersburg school, arresting one student for fighting and another for knocking down a cafeteria worker.

They also beefed up their presence, sending five officers to the school on Thursday, up from the previous two.

"The main reason the officers are there is to ensure the safety of the students," said police spokesman George Katjsa.

The five officers will be at the school again on Friday, the spokesman said, especially during lunch, when the school has had the most trouble with unruly students. Whether those officers will be there next week will be decided later.

A second officer was added to John Hopkins three weeks ago because there were so many violent incidents, police said, that the school resource officer didn't have time to perform his other duties there.

Three incidents marred Thursday's school day, according to police:

• In the most serious one, a 12-year-old boy demanded more juice from a cafeteria worker during lunch. The worker told the student they were out of juice. The boy got upset and shoved a gate, knocking the staff member to the ground. The boy was arrested on a felony charge of battery on a School Board employee and taken to juvenile detention.

• Three boys taunted another, trying to goad him into a fight. The boy walked away but the other three followed him. An officer interceded and the three boys were disciplined and sent home by administrators.

• Two boys got into a shouting match, then a food fight in the cafeteria. The brawl spilled out into the courtyard, where officers broke it up by using pepper spray. One boy was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct, but because he had a medical reaction to the pepper spray, police allowed him to be taken off campus by his mother for treatment. The other boy was disciplined by the school.

As fights continue at John Hopkins Middle, Pinellas school superintendent exhorts parents 03/04/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 4, 2010 9:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program


    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's …

  2. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000


    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  3. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big


    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  4. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  5. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times