Administrators are investigating a Norfolk school security guard’s use of pepper spray during a food fight.
The incident happened during lunch last Tuesday at the cafeteria of Lafayette-Winona Middle School. Norfolk Public Schools spokesperson Elizabeth Mather said that the officer used pepper spray to break up the fight.
A concerned parent wrote 10 On Your Side saying the spray caused some of the kids with asthma to get sick. Mather said 37 students who complained of physical symptoms following the pepper spray were examined by the school nurse, and their parents were contacted.
Five parents contacted the school after the incident.
“It was just terrible in there,” 12-year-old Derrell Hairston said.
“He stayed up all night coughing and gagging. I just feel like you can’t treat these kids like animals … they’re going to act like animals,” Hairston’s mom, Tyheshia, added.
“I’d be upset absolutely I don’t blame the parents for being upset I understand that,” Norfolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Richard Bentley said. “…we’re still investigating the facts, we don’t have all the facts yet okay and it would be inappropriate for me to speak about that until we completed the investigation,” Bentley continued.
According to school security officer policy, the security officer must give a warning and only use the pepper spray when lesser forms of force don’t work.
Principal Tracey Flemings sent a letter home to parent that read in part, “Please be assured that Norfolk Public Schools has specific policy and procedures regarding the use of pepper spray by our school security officers, and all officers are thoroughly trained.”
As the article states, the investigation is still underway. I wasn’t there, so of course I can’t say I know how out of control the situation became. Apparently, the school’s security officers have been trained to use pepper spray as a last resort. I just find it ironic that one parent said you can’t treat children like animals or they will act like animals. I know kids will be kids and stuff happens at school, but weren’t they already acting like animals by throwing food?
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am very sympathetic to the children who suffered physical ailments as a result of being pepper sprayed. In addition, there were no doubt innocent bystanders that got caught up in the madness. Also, if pepper spray was inappropriately used, then the guard should be held accountable.
Read the full article @ msnbc