I-Team: Classrooms of Fear - Incidents Revealed

Published: May. 15, 2014 at 1:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jan. 13, 2015 at 5:02 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLARIFICATION:  The law enforcement figures we previously reported for Mayfair Lab School were accurate but were from the time that campus served as a middle school.  For the 2013-2014 school year, the campus changed into an elementary school.   There have been no (zero) incidents of law enforcement being called to the campus since it became an elementary school.   

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A normal school scene includes students walking to and from classes, buses waiting to take them home and teachers and administrators watching over them, but on March 28, 2014, the scene at Highland Elementary School was far from normal.

"She was totally out of control. She was very violent," said East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

East Baton Rouge deputies responded to reports of a girl so violent that the safety of other children at the school was at jeopardy so they ordered a lockdown.

"This is the first incident that I can recall that we had to put a school on lockdown because of aggressive and violent behavior with one of the students," said Sheriff Gautreaux.

An elementary school was locked down because a 12-yr-old student got into a fight with another student.

After administrators separated the two, "She broke lose from them, and then went trying to find the girl she was fighting with so they put the school on lockdown to keep everybody in the classroom because of this girl's violent behavior," said Sheriff Gautreaux.

It's an unusual incident for the East Baton Rouge public schools according to EBR school spokesman Keith Bromery.

When asked how often top school officials hear of a school locked down because of a disruptive student, Bromery said, "Rarely, very rarely. We have methods and techniques for dealing with disruptive students and we utilize them."

It's an incident that's alarming to parents with children at Highland Elementary.

"Kids these days are so aggressive, you never know what sets them off. That part is scary, and you just don't know what it takes to set them off and how far they will go. It's just scary that a 12-yr-old would get that angry," said Caraleen Harris, who has a child at Highland Elementary.

After the 12-yr-old girl's mother showed up at school, deputies say things quickly escalated.

According to police reports, the woman spotted the girl her daughter had been in a fight with and that girl's mother. As other students watched, the mother yelled...

"I'm going to kill that b**** and her daughter in Gardere"

"Y' all going to be picking them b****es up off Keel Ave. when I'm done with both them hoes."

The deputy told the woman to stop her profanity laced rant several times. She replied, "F*** you. I'm not going to jail and you're not taking my baby either."

After several more warnings, the deputy handcuffed the mother, but things got worse.

"The mother actually kicked one of the deputies so finally we had to taze her in order to get her to stop fighting," said Sheriff Gautreaux.

After being tazed in the principal's office, she was taken to parish prison and booked on several charges: unlawful disruption of the operation of a school, resisting an arrest, battery of an officer, simple assault & interfering with law enforcement investigation.

"It's indicative and it's typical with what we're faced with now with parents that are taking absolutely no responsibility for their child's behavior and then they're behaving in the same manner," said Sheriff Gautreaux.

That's just one case. In another at McKinley High School last month, deputies were called out to break up a fight during lunch involving seven students. When the Dean of Students grabbed a 15-yr-old to separate her from the fight, she hit him in the mouth busting his lip.

"She continued to hit him in the head with her fists and of course she was ultimately restrained, but when the mother arrived, she wanted the Dean of Students charged with physically restraining her daughter," said Sheriff Gautreaux.

The dean was not charged, but the 15-yr-old. was with battery on a school teacher and disturbing the peace.

The I-team examined police records showing how often law enforcement is called out to the East Baton Rouge Public Schools. From Jan. 2013 through April 2014, Baton Rouge Police responded 18 times to various schools for things like guns, aggravated assaults, terrorizing and 2nd degree battery, but the majority of the EBR public schools fall within the Sheriff's office jurisdiction, and those numbers are much higher.

"We've seen an increase in violence," said Sheriff Gautreaux. "We're getting violence involving 12-13 yr olds now at school."

The I-team looked at records for all schools in the sheriff's office jurisdiction for two calendar years. We looked at 2012 and 2013 and broke it down by how many times deputies were called out to the schools and how many arrests they made from all the times they responded.

Woodlawn High ranked the highest for the number of call outs with 128 last year and 54 arrests. The types of calls at Woodlawn included gambling and narcotics, fights, assault and battery, disturbances and theft and the list goes on and on.

It's these numbers that paint a grim picture with a worry some future of the EBR public schools according at least one elementary school parent.

"It's very scary. I'm very concerned for it. You know, you can only pray for your kids and hope that they make it home everyday and that's scary in an elementary school," said Harris.

When EBR school officials were asked about the numbers and whether they signal trouble, Bromery said, "What we acknowledge is that there are behavioral problems in any large urban school district. Ours isn't any better or worse than any other school district. I've been in four major school districts, and it looks similar to me and there are cases where there are worse."

Whether the two students in this report faced any discipline, Bromery said he could not disclose that information as it involves specific student records.

NOTE: If you are viewing this story on a mobile device, click the link to watch the entire interview with Keith Bromery -

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.