Parents concerned about safety after large fight at Oak View Middle School


NEWBERRY, Fla. – A fight at Oak View Middle School in Newberry on Wednesday led to the deployment of extra Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) Deputies on campus for additional security. According to several social media posts describing the incident, a student allegedly pulled a fire alarm after being disruptive and “cussing everyone out,” and then a fight broke out with boys attacking girls while multiple teachers and staff tried to break it up. One Facebook post about the incident has attracted 141 comments as of the writing of this article, with a number of people saying their children frequently report fights at their Alachua County schools.

“There was a fight on campus, which is being addressed by school officials,” ASO Public Information Officer Art Forgey told us Wednesday afternoon. “There were a lot of bystanders that were being ‘chirpy’ while this occurred. The school is also dealing with this by ensuring kids are getting on buses or leaving the area.” He said “chirpy” means that bystanders were encouraging other students to keep fighting.

Forgey informed us that the Sheriff’s Office added extra patrol units “to make sure everything remains civil and no more fights occur.”

A video of the fight was uploaded to an Instagram account titled “ovm_fights” but has since been removed by Instagram for violating Community Guidelines. The screenshot above was taken from the short, chaotic video that panned across a large number of students outside Oak View, with several adults trying to separate students who were fighting with each other. Students could be heard cheering on those who were involved in the fight, and the video ended abruptly when an adult demanded that the videographer hand over their phone. This account also includes other uploaded videos that purport to show incidents at Oak View.

Forgey told us that the sheriff’s office is unable to give an accurate account of the number of fights on the Oak View campus this year because “many times there is not a report written (if handled by the school) or many times it is coded as a Juvenile Problem.'” He did, however, provide us with a report of every incident where a deputy was dispatched to Oak View since August 1. According to that report, there were 32 incidents coded as “Juvenile Problem,” eight coded as “Assault/Battery,” two coded as “Physical Fight,” and one coded as “Sexual Battery.” 

Forgey added, “There are some assault and battery cases listed, but it would not include all.”

Abbitt: “Things need to change”

School Board Member Kay Abbitt told us that concerned parents should get involved by showing up to school board meetings and speaking up about their concerns over the behavioral problems and violence at their children’s schools. “Parents need to get involved and come to school board meetings. If they don’t, it’s crickets. Things need to change,” she cautioned. 

Abbitt added, “We need to look at Ms. McGraw’s plan very carefully, and we need to take action on that plan. If kids are not going to be held accountable, nothing will happen.” 

Abbitt was referencing fellow Member Diyonne McGraw’s recent presentation given to the board titled “Enough is Enough,” where she laid out a comprehensive plan on how to address the behavioral issues at schools – part of which included opening a new “Transitional School” in addition to A. Quinn Jones.

“The parents need to show up if they want something to change,” Abbitt insisted.

The other board members did not respond to our request for comment on the fight at Oak View. 

Parent believes school administrators are blocked from taking action

A parent whose child attends Oak View reached out to us regarding this incident and said that she finds it difficult to attend meetings in person but watches every school board meeting and often calls in to voice her concerns. “It angers me to see the amazing principal and staff at the school having to deal with this,” she said. 

She believes that more could be done to address the discipline issues but that school administrators are being blocked from taking action due to School Board or District Office policies.

An Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) teacher told us that the District Office makes it difficult for schools to suspend or reassign students, citing the need to gather more data or keep kids in the classroom.

Oak View has worked to prevent conflicts

ACPS Public Information Officer Jackie Johnson told us that the students involved in the fight “are being disciplined in keeping with the district’s Code of Student Conduct.” 

She continued, “I understand law enforcement is also taking action. The school is continuing to investigate to determine what additional action should be taken. That includes talking (again) with the parents, reviewing any previous disciplinary issues (if there are any), the circumstances of this incident, etc.”

“Additional actions” for a student at any school may include placement at an alternative school, revocation of a zoning exception/magnet program placement, a behavioral plan, or expulsion. 

Johnson said that many of the conflicts that occur on school campuses “originate outside of the school and/or on social media.” 

“When schools are made aware of any potential conflicts brewing on social media or in the community, they will work with students and families to try to head off any issues, and that is certainly the case at Oak View,” she informed us. Johnson added that Oak View has held assemblies and presentations by guest speakers throughout the year that include discussions with students about behavior, violence prevention, and handling conflicts. 

“Just last Friday there was an assembly with 8th graders called ‘Know the Law’ that included representatives from the Alachua County Health and Wellness Coalition and Teen Court. The assembly included a discussion of penalties students can face for fighting and other violations of the law,” Johnson said.

The next school board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 4 at the ACPS District Office Board Room, located at 620 East University Ave. Additional information and a link to the live stream of the board meeting can be found here.  

  • Lack of discipline, respect for others and tribal mentality are the primary culprits.
    It wasn’t like this 20+ years ago. Maybe we should go back to “old school” ways. That would be a change from the PC policies that are currently not doing any good.

    • It actually was very much like this 20+ years ago in our local middle schools!

      As a former student that attended Fort Clarke Middle School in the late 90’s, I was bullied, harrassed, and often had to physically defend myself nearly daily. My mother spoke to FCMS administrator (Mr. Thomas) many times and was promised many times that it would “be the last time.”

      Only difference was law enforcement wasn’t called back in the day.

      • Well Misty, that’s too bad & sorry you experienced that. Having attended Mebane prior to your time at Ft Clarke I never experienced a problem or an issue with these types of behaviors. Guess we had a better administration and staff than you did or maybe it was true, kids in rural communities tend to be more respectful of authority as well as their peers. That’s what is missing in today’s society.

        • Administration has nothing to do with the way children act, and living in rural areas lol yeah they bring guns to school and shoot innocent people because of the “Better administration “ and parenting

      • No, it wasn’t like this 20 years ago. People didn’t stand around recording a bunch of thugs/students fighting. There may have been a few one vs. ones but not this madness.

  • Looks like the ACSB Members have raised a generation of disrespect for the Law. Is there a law about about School Board Member , being in office illegally , taking a Salary , and then when removed from office , not paying back the tens of thousands of dollars received? Now that’s a great example for the students. I would never waste my time at a meeting with these folks. Thanks Goodness for Vouchers .

  • There seems to be a common theme amongst these troubled youths in the videos, and across the country. If only I could put my finger on it…

    • That’s the issue no one wants to hear and address, and why the problem will only get worse. Some parents are justifiably afraid to speak up because certain political parties have weaponized the justice and legal system against us. They wanted the videographer’s phone because God forbid the truth ever sees the light of day. Our kids both went through this. One of the students convinced my kid to be a part of some sick online suicide pact. It’s all very troubling.

  • Look at the current condition of this nations youth, disrespectful and totally confused about themselves and everything around them. Imagine how it will look in another ten or twenty years with some of these degenerates getting that much older? Time for parent’s to parent once again and shut down social media to anyone under a certain age. It’s gotten out of hand folks, and if the few remaining adults in the crowd don’t ask more from their fellow aged adults, it’s not gonna be good for our kids, and especially our grandkids.

  • A direct result of not dealing with discipline problems. Stop making everything a “race issue.”Inappropriate actions have immediate and predictable consequences. Abbott and McGraw are on the right path.

    • You’re right BJ, if we’re going to focus on race, let’s focus on the race of the kids having their learning environment destroyed by the idiocy of the PhDs on the school board and the downtown milquetoasts. Let’s start by getting rid of ‘working with’ parents of delinquents and Enforce a school environment that eradicates disruption.

      And how many kids in the ‘know the law’ assembly have avoided exactly the penalties discussed due to fecklessness of the SBAC and administration?

  • Liberalism by nature never enforces standards, including common courtesy and behavior. This is the result.
    It’s time to make homeschooling the default requirement, then parents have to apply for outside public ed to be accepted. If their kid behave. No more daycare centers for future misfits.

  • The most important thing I see here is “boys attacking girls”, this is the part that is the most upsetting about this generation of entitled brats.

    • I echo your concerns. This is becoming way too common in today’s society when boys/men attack/abuse girls/women. This is NOT, CANNOT and MUST NOT become an acceptable behavior.

  • At just one MIDDLE school…..MIDDLE school, people!

    At Oak View since August 1. According to that report, there were 32 incidents coded as “Juvenile Problem,” eight coded as “Assault/Battery,” two coded as “Physical Fight,” and one coded as “Sexual Battery.”

    Sorry, but the parents have to be held accountable, at this age they are 100% the responsibility of the parent.

  • Some want kids to be “exposed” to certain promotions of lifestyles but they don’t them “exposed” to properly administered correctional discipline strategies.

    Maybe parents should reconsider their choices.

  • The key is often leadership and a committed staff. If there are not significant consequences – and note, I did not say or imply typical punishments – then the violence will most likely continue. Each case needs to be judged fairly and without consideration of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, or political stance. This is the essence of justice – blind – not woke.

  • This has been going on and tolerated way too long. I remember when my kids where at Hidden Oak elementary and a student was suspended for fighting (more like bullying) and the mother came in to speak with the principal. The mother attacked the 65+ y.o. Mrs. Richardson and put her in the hospital. One of my kids was getting bullied so I decided to home school our 5 children. One of the best decisions I ever made. None of my children have ever been arrested (that I know of) and all of them are employed and have families. Most impressive….none of them have had to move back home or have asked me for $$$ either,

  • I attended OVMS in the early 90’s when it was a brand-new school, our class was the first to complete 3 years there. I remember nearly zero incidents like this ever happening. In fact I remember it being an amazing few years, with really amazing teachers and administration. Joan Longstreth (RIP) was an outstanding principal. Sad to see where society and culture has gone.

  • More trouble in the future Springs County. Things will be much better when Springs County runs the schools with zero taxes. That’s the ticket, yea.

    • How, exactly, could it be any worse than the current situation? Do Gilchrist, Dixie and other nearby counties have the discipline problems of Alachua County?

  • It seems the continuing discipline problem in a District with 29,000 plus students (from the ACPS website), is too much for a single school board and Superintendent.

    Time for Gainesville to stand up their own City of Gainesville Public School District, and elect their own School Board, or take the current SBAC with eligibility based on living within the Gainesville city limits.

    Break them off from the rest of Alachua County who would then stand up their own School Board (we already have an Alachua County Public School District).

    Alachua County School board eligibility would be based on NOT living within the City of Gainesville, elected by everyone NOT within the City of Gainesville city limits.

    Let the City of Gainesville Public Schools tax and administer their district and Alachua County Public Schools tax and administer their own. This is how it’s done in many areas where one large city has manages their own district, Jacksonville, for one.

    • Sorry, typo: last line should read “where one large city manages their own district”

  • The SBAC is the biggest problem to restoring order in ACPS.

    Per the article: “ACPS Public Information Officer Jackie Johnson told us that the students involved in the fight “are being disciplined in keeping with the district’s Code of Student Conduct.”

    The District’s Code of Student Conduct is the get out of jail free card for offending students as the SBAC ultimately makes the decision whether or not to suspend or expel a student for offenses not charged by local law enforcement.

    According to their “Policies”, “The Board believes that the best discipline is self-imposed and that students should learn to assume responsibility for their own behavior and the consequences of their actions.” If that is the case, what do you think the thugs and criminals feel their discipline should be?

    Also here is their (SBAC) published stance on violence in schools, “The Board will not tolerate any form of violence, disruptive or inappropriate behavior…..” Lots of talk but it appears the SBAC leaders who have been on the board earlier than the last election, do not follow the “policies” they wrote!

    Here is the link to current ACPS Policies (at least these are the policies currently posted on the ACPS webpage:

    “Student Discipline”: http://go.boarddocs.com/fl/alaco/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=BD8LMD549225

    “Zero Tolerance for School Related Crimes”: http://go.boarddocs.com/fl/alaco/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=BGXTRX73FD1C

    “Out of School Suspension and Expulsion of Students”: http://go.boarddocs.com/fl/alaco/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=C9RUQC7CF2DD

    Of course, after all the time the Principal and/or Superintendent must invest in following the SBAC policies to maintain safety and order in the school/classroom, the student and parent have the opportunity to tie them up further by exercising their (student/parent) right to filing a grievance.

    “Student and Parent Complaint/Grievances”:

    After all the writing and counseling sessions invested in just one incident deserving some type of disciplinary action: I wonder if there is any pressure felt by the Administrators, and teachers, to avoid any disciplinary actions?

    Parents, Alachua county residents: Go to the ACPS workshops and board meetings and express yourselves! Your children’s safety and opportunity to learn and succeed in life are at stake!

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