Analyzing the Grimsley situation

(courtesy N&R)

This is now the third time in as many months that I’ve tried to analyze (with little luck) a massive brawl/melee/fight/disturbance (call it whatever you desire to call it) at a Guilford County high school.

This is getting tiring.

Again, if you’re keeping score at home…we had the big fight at Page H.S. in October, then last month’s hallway brawl at Southern H.S., now this. A commenter last week mentioned things may be getting hot & heavy at Western Guilford H.S.

Late word today via the News & Record that 14 students have been suspended out of last week’s Grimsley H.S. incident (note to self…they’ve been given a 2-week vacation).

This one is tricky because many are not calling this a “gang” incident, but some in the media are. FM Talk 101.1 radio (which I listen to religiously) has called it a gang incident, as was CBS-2 WFMY. Whereas the N&R describes it as a neighborhood dispute which spilled over into school last Friday.


Over on David Hoggard’s blog, assessing blame has been tricky. A poster self-described as a recent Grimsley alumni says part of the problem may be attributed to racism in our schools; something I’ve been trying to pick at off and on for a while here on the blog:

The problem does not lie in the fact that schools are integrated. As a graduate of 2007, I must say it is quite evident thatat there is segregation within this ‘integrated’. There is stll a lot of racism, and there definitley is a big advantage towards white students in this school system today. Parents, teachers and administrators won’t acknowledge the problem…..ask a student and they’ll be quick to tell you of the racial tension. The problem does not lie in re-segregating, it lies in the communication gap between whites and blacks. It is evidnt to me that one cannot understand the other , and to place the blame solely on these kids whose ‘fault’ it is, is wrong, we should place the blame on those who do not wish to bridge this gap. Go to the classes at Grimsley , and see for your self that the blacks are with blacks and the whites are with whites. ( In most cases)Integration has not fully occurred and when it does, this world will be a better place. Until then, quit placing blame on any one side.

But when we as a community try to inquire about exactly what the tensions are and what we as a community can do, there is silence. When I’ve tried to open up dialogue about it here on the blog, my mailbag remains empty. If there is so much racism in our schools that it is boiling over like a tea kettle,why isn’t there an outcry?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. …well, someone besides her. Interestingly enough, some have blamed GCS board member Deena Hayes for constantly crying “racism” and contributing to the problems we’re having in our schools…Again, back to Hoggard’s blog:

Again, the thing that pisses me off the most is when folks like Deena Hayes try to blame the crap on the folks with the most not sharing the resources. You have to work for what you get in the real world Deena!

My friend Billy “the blogging poet” Jones has plenty of blame to issue:

The real blame lies at the feet of the Greensboro City Council, Guilford County Commissioners, a few corrupt police officers and the Guilford County School Board.

And I heard in passing that because former Grimsley principal Rob Gasparello ran such a “tight ship,” you didn’t hear of these incidents happening under his tenure.

Gasparello is now running a private school in Durham.


My friend Doug Clark chimed in this morning on his News & Record blog:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Grimsley is one of the best high schools in Guilford County, but it’s not having a good year in terms of student behavior. Don’t kids have any pride in their school? Some of them seem determined to drag it down — or get themselves kicked out, throwing away the opportunities it provides them. That’s no way to earn respect.

Clark makes a valid point. I think many students have pride in their schools and it is unfortunate that a select few want to tarnish the individual image.

It was also the topic-du-jour at today’s News & Record midday Editorial Roundtable. See this excerpt:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. These were not gang-related clashes, per se, though they did involve at least some loosely allied groups of students, male and female, from rival neighborhoods Hampton Homes and Cumberland Courts.

As we see it, the problem was community friction that unfortunately spilled into the halls of a public high school:

There are three obvious realities here:

1. That such dangerous, disruptive behavior can not be tolerated on a school campus. The students involved deserve stern disciplinary action, as school policy prescribes in the case of physical violence. This is no time to fret over suspension statistics.The schools have an obligation to be firm but compassionate in how they handle the students involved in the fighting. But they also have an obligation to the majority of students at Grimsley who don’t fight and are there to do what they are supposed to do at school: learn. They have a similar obligation to the teachers and staff at Grimsley who presumably signed up to teach lessons and provide guidance, not to referee impromptu hallway boxing matches.

2. That this is a problem that students brought with them onto campus. As one who grew up here, I’m aware of an ugly tradition of turf wars between members of various neighborhoods. It recalled Jim Schlosser’s story last week on gangs that drew their identity and common bonds from neighborhoods such as Smith Homes, Hampton Homes and Morningside Homes. Decades ago Hampton Homes was referred to ominously by some as “Southside.”

3. That the community definitely needs to be involved in the root solutions underlying these conflicts. Parents, youth and other concerned community members should feel compelled to be part of the answer — in fact, the major part. There are many decent, law-abiding in those neighborhoods. There are presumably also many young people from both neghborhoods who get along fine and see each other for who they are, not where they live. They need to be involved in lasting answers to these ugly, destructive rivalries.


So what do I think? I’m not confident that the multi-faceted school climate task force’s upcoming final report and recommendations will have any teeth. I think it will take a necessary investigation (and possible rewrite) of the GCS discipline policy for things to make a difference. We also need to start expelling students. Remember, GCS hasn’t expelled a student since 2000. Obviously, our alternative settings aren’t working to their full potential. In-School Suspension is a joke at many of our schools. It will take a complete overhaul for things to start turning around, and gee, what a novel idea…howabout a no-tolerance policy. Make it uniform across all schools and make it stick. And maybe…just maybe, things will begin to turn around.

This is the Grimsley High School we should be talking about…of kids being kids. And kids enjoying themselves. I hope we can get back to that. This is random video I found on YouTube. I didn’t film this, this is public domain.

E.C. 🙂


3 Responses

  1. It is interesting to note that while turbulence has boiled over in Greensboro high schools regularly this year, High Point Central has been as quite as church mouse. It wasn’t too long ago that Central was the center of school violence in this county So, what’s made the difference there? An informed source on the inside of Central tells me that it attributable to the hard, dedicated work of Revonda Johnson. I’m told that the quite is real, not covered-up. So, if that is so, why isn’t Ms. Johnson getting major kudos, like Principal of the Year? Is it because Ms. Johnson isn’t a Grier Suck-up, and spends about 80 hours a week doing her job very well?

    And, speaking of Mr. Gasparello, what happened to him? He was wisked out of Grimsley, and out of this county pretty quickly. What sin did he commit against the Grier Regime? As I recall he was solidly in the Grier Inner Circle at one time.

  2. […] Huey has analysis of Friday’s brawl at Grimsley High School, while the N&R follows up and […]

  3. I got an e-mail a little while ago with the writer saying that Grimsley went to heck once Gaspy left. The writer says the grounds are more dirtier, assistant principals do not get the respect they deserve, and there is an overall vote of no confidence among teachers and students of the current administrative team, headed up by Kevin Fleming.

    It took a lot of work to turn Central around and I know it is still an ongoing process. Many Central H.S. teachers are big big supporters of this campaign.

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