Yes Virginia, there IS a gang problem in GCS

I wish to point you in the direction of a new strand on the News & Record Chalkboard (click here to go there). As a follow-up to a Sunday N&R story, the focus now is to keep gang activity out of our schools.

Apparently, the war of the words is heating up.

Here’s an excerpt from the Sunday story:

Earlier this summer, however, when the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office announced it would end the long-running DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, it left the Guilford County School System — the state’s third largest — without a widespread, law officer-administered program with any anti-gang focus, Superintendent Terry Grier said.

What remains is largely a scattershot approach, mainly through High Point police offering its GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training) in some schools within that city, and school resource officers throughout the system trying to offer staff training and gang education.

But Grier, hired as superintendent seven years ago after administration stints in locations such as Sacramento, Calif., and Akron, Ohio, disagreed strongly with any notion that the Guilford County Schools under his leadership have been slow to address the rising number of gang-related issues in recent years.

“I don’t buy that at all,” Grier said. “We’ve been taking it very seriously as long as I’ve been in the district. I’ve worked in districts where we’ve had serious gang problems. Gangs may be a new phenomenon in Greensboro, North Carolina, but they’re not new to me.”

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Are you getting all of this? I’m setting something up here…follow along. Here’s another excerpt:

Grier and school board Chairman Alan Duncan both pointed out that $3 million to address discipline and school climate issues in this year’s school budget was cut by the county commissioners.

“Gang activity is typically brought to school; it doesn’t formulate in school,” Duncan said. “We try to use school as a positive activity. We’re not funded sufficiently to educate our children, much less meet all their health needs and social needs,” he said.

Duncan took issue with earlier reports in which local police anti-gang officers portrayed school board members as reluctant to confront a growing gang problem.

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Here’s the setup…we have several issues going on here. One, we have Grier defending his efforts to address gang activity in our schools and attempting to silence his critics. It does not take rocket science to admit that we have gangs in our schools. One only needs to walk the halls and peek in bathrooms during class changes to validate this theory.

But look again at what Grier says: “We’ve been taking it very seriously as long as I’ve been in the district. I’ve worked in districts where we’ve had serious gang problems.”

What districts were those? What kinds of gang problems were those? Exactly how were they handled? What kinds of relationships were established and are those relationships still in place today in those districts? And to editorialize, if we have been taking our gang problem as seriously as you say, why did it take this long for a Discipline Task Force to get off the ground to address this issue?

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Here’s more…if you noticed, both Grier and Duncan play the blame game, criticizing the County Board for cutting the funding necessary to address gangs in schools. Let’s look at that excerpt again:

Grier and school board Chairman Alan Duncan both pointed out that $3 million to address discipline and school climate issues in this year’s school budget was cut by the county commissioners.

“Gang activity is typically brought to school; it doesn’t formulate in school,” Duncan said. “We try to use school as a positive activity. We’re not funded sufficiently to educate our children, much less meet all their health needs and social needs,” he said.

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Okay, why were those funds cut? Where’s the reasoning behind that? If it is the County Board being the County Board, there’s must be a reason. And if there is a legitimate reason, it fits the logic behind the notion of the County Board being hostile to our schools. But if it is the County Board telling GCS that they have sufficient funds available to address this issue and to stop squandering money down on Eugene Street, then that’s a different issue altogether, and one I have tried to address and one I will continue to address in this campaign. But publicly playing the blame game does nothing to address the issue.

One additional point…someone on the N&R Chalkboard pointed to Page 53 of the GCS Student Handbook under Rule 25: Gang Activity or Gang-related activity.  Posters have responded by saying that there is no protection for teachers and staff or innocent students in this “policy.” They’re right. they’re suspended, and then they’re right back in the school or classroom. A slap-on-the-wrist is not a viable policy.

It’s time to get serious. I hope this task force can address this, propose some recommendations and help to make a difference in our schools this year. We’ll be watching.

E.C. 🙂

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4 Responses

  1. My son complained of Bloods and Crips at Northwest Guilford High School 10 years ago. None of this is new and it’s past due time local government got their heads out of their asses.

  2. Well-said, well spoken. This is a reactive board, and it is sickening. Unfortunately, it is going to take a serious incident to occur for something significant to be done.

  3. The real problem with our school board, city council and county commissioners is they’re all a bunch of cowards who refuse to accept responsibility for their failures and force citizens to do the jobs government should be doing.

  4. I agree with you there, Billy. We heard from a group of GCS employees some months ago who said anonymously that they appreciated the postings on this blog and learned more about what’s going on around the system than from GCS Central Office. I can only promise you, Billy, and others…if I’m elected next year, I will not become complacent. This blog will continue, and I will continue reaching out to my constituency.

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