By Justin Roshak, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – Multiple incidents of student-on-student violence at Hudson High School since the start of the school year were discussed at last week’s Sept. 21 School Committee meeting.
Each of the several incidents so far has involved a group of seven female students, according to Superintendent Marco Rodrigues. He said that the issue was “controlled in the sense that it’s seven individuals” rather than a trend of disparate incidents.
Rodrigues declined to go into detail about individual punishments but said, “Every time these situations have happened, students have had consequences. Students have been suspended.”
“I’m deeply concerned at the level of violence and the level of force used among the students in these specific altercations,” said Courtney Smith, a mother of three Hudson students, in testimony to the School Committee.
Smith expressed concern that one fight had occurred in a girls’ bathroom when social distancing measures should prevent that number of students from congregating at once. She advocated for a more controlled bathroom policy, a schoolwide assembly, and a more specific discipline policy in the student handbook.
In response, Superintendent Rodrigues explained that in 2012, Massachusetts passed a law imposing more stringent requirements for suspensions.
Students can be removed from school on an emergency basis for 48 hours, during which an investigation determines what further consequence is appropriate. Suspensions of up to ten days are permitted under the typical process.
“It’s different than before, when principals and administrators had the option to quickly and easily exclude students; that’s no longer how it works,” Rodrigues explained.
He added that the change was intended to address the fact that students of color were suspended at higher rates and for longer periods for comparable offenses.
Rodrigues also expressed the view that Hudson’s existing discipline code was sufficiently specific.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to correct a typo in an earlier version.