After a period of relative calm, Pasco County’s Fivay High School found itself back in the unwanted spotlight last week when two lunchtime fights led to six arrests.
“We had gone 62 days without a fight,” principal Jason Joens observed Monday.
But after Thursday’s melee, the calls came quickly from parents who wanted action to bring the campus under more constant control.
“How are you keeping my child and others safe at Fivay High School?” the school’s advisory committee chairwoman wrote to Superintendent Kurt Browning.
On Monday, the added steps became more clear.
A security guard stood at the entrance to the main parking lot, checking every car to determine why the occupants were coming to campus. He would check to see if any teen in the vehicle had a valid student ID and belonged at the school, as well.
One of the six people arrested on Thursday was a former student, who was facing trespassing charges.
The Sheriff’s Office added a second resource officer to the school for the remainder of the year. It also had three patrol cars on campus, for an extra display of law enforcement presence for the time being.
Inside, the school installed a buzzer system between the main reception area and the rest of the school, to ensure that no one can simply walk through without permission. Other Pasco schools have that system in place, but Fivay did not.
Joens sent a phone message to parents on Sunday, alerting them to the changes. He has been working with the district to remove all students who have been in fights, tightening up on the Student Code of Conduct rules for Fivay so there is even less tolerance for that type of behavior.
District spokesman Steve Hegarty said the district and school received some complaints that students who were defending themselves were being subjected to the same standard as the instigators. The administration has begun exploring an approach to take into consideration who started a fight, if that can be determined.
“He’s trying to address that,” Hegarty said.
Fivay has been attempting all year to reduce its fighting on campus. School district and Sheriff’s Office leaders have said the number of participants has been small, but their activities — which often began in the community — have caused problems within the school.
Joens made it a priority after becoming principal to try to improve the campus culture and focus on positive activities, while purging students deemed to be troublemakers.