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Niagara Falls School Board talks plan to return 100 brawlers to the classroom

The front entrance of Niagara Falls High School
Niagara Falls City Schools

Niagara Falls Schools are dealing with around 100 students involved in brawls at the high school during the first few days of school. About 70% of them were female.

Schools Superintendent Mark Laurrie said around half of the students were actively involved in the brawls and the other half interfered with ending the fighting. He told the school board Thursday evening there is a plan to slowly bring the students back to school, as long as they follow the plan and meet its milestones.

He said the problems began when the district couldn't get the kids home on time because of the national shortage of bus drivers. With too much time on their hands and social media wars, the brawls started.

"In a handful of cases, I would say it's typical teenaged lack of responsibility behavior. And in another case, I can tell you there's been some frustration with transportation," he said. "In two of the four instances in which cases in which we had physical altercation, they occurred after 3:15, usual time when kids would be on buses."

The superintendent said the district now has the problems under control, with the 100 out of school.

"Depending on how well they do in their remote academy, what their faithfulness has been to their grades and their counseling and their parents will support, and if they do that, we have a program called Late Flex, where they'll come in for half of the day and get half of their classes on remote," Laurrie said. "And if they are successful there, with their classes and their counseling, they will return in full."

Laurrie said the plan also includes some mentoring by community members.

"Members of the community have stepped forward — and I'm talking about our Peacemakers and our Men Standing Strong — to be a mentor-liaison to each one of those students in their journey back. So they will check in with these students as they return to school, as well," Laurrie said. "If all of those conditions are met and the parent agrees to that, we'll welcome them back. If that's not the case, they'll continue on their remote learning."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.