Rash of School Violence in Middletown Prompts Concern


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MIDDLETOWN — Multiple fights at the middle and high school that left at least one student injured have prompted calls from parents for greater transparency and more involvement on the part of the administration. 

Jessie Lavorgna, the communications director for the Middletown Public Schools, confirmed that two “physical altercations” — fights in which no one was hurt — occurred on January 28 at the high school.

A message obtained by CT Examiner that was sent to the Board of Education on Friday said that two “incidents” had taken place at the high school that day. One, which involved “five females,”  was broken up after other students informed the administration about it. The second fight involved two female students who were fighting in a bathroom. The students involved in the fights were suspended, according to the message to the board. 

The message also said that during one of the fights, a Student Resource Officer was kicked and an assistant principal punched in the face, but that no one sustained serious injuries.

“Rumors had been floated… that an SRO and school administrator were injured but the SRO confirmed neither was accurate,” Lieutenant Brian Hubbs of the Middletown Police Department told CT Examiner in an email on Wednesday.  

Hubbs told CT Examiner that police were sent to the high school to investigate an alleged assault that took place after the school day ended on Friday, but that no report was made about it. He said that he believed the officer had been sent to the student’s home later on that day. 

Lavorgna said that there had been an additional two “physical altercations” at the high school on Monday, and two more on Wednesday. She said there were also two fights at Beman Middle School on Wednesday, one in which the students were not hurt and one in which a student sustained minor injuries. 

Hubbs said in the email that the department was aware of two fights on Monday, both of which were resolved by the administration without SRO involvement. 

Acting Superintendent Alberto Vazquez-Matos, in a letter to parents on Tuesday, said that the administration was reviewing the resources that the district had available to address the fighting. 

“This morning, I met with MHS administration and district leaders to discuss root causes and develop action steps that will address the behaviors that our students are exhibiting,” Vazquez-Matos wrote. “My team left the meeting tasked to review resources (i.e. financial, human, and social capital) that are already and not yet available in the district. The goal is to better utilize that which is already here and to continue to design a system that is best equipped to respond to all of our students.” 

Not all parents, however, feel that the administration has done enough to step in and prevent the fights. 

Michelle Gage-Diaz, the parent of a child involved in a fight at the high school on Friday, posted on Facebook that she was very upset about the administration’s response to the incident. 

Gage-Diaz told CT Examiner that she contacted the school after her daughter received threats on Thursday. According to Gage-Diaz, assistant principal Dawn Brooks spoke with the girl who was threatening Gage-Diaz’s daughter, and then told Gage-Diaz’s daughter that the girl “would not touch her.” 

The next day, Gage-Diaz said, her daughter was assaulted by another student in the bathroom in front of five other students. 

“I even told the school I didn’t want her walking around by herself,” said Gage-Diaz. 

Gage-Diaz said that in the aftermath of the fight, her daughter started having headaches and stomach aches. Gage-Diaz took her daughter to the hospital, where the girl was diagnosed with a concussion. Gage-Diaz said her daughter had been punched in the head multiple times during the fight. 

“We don’t even want to send her back to school,” said Gage-Diaz, adding that her daughter was afraid even to take the bus and was feeling depressed because of what happened. 

The district did not respond to questions from CT Examiner about the incident.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.