PORTLAND, Ore. — Fights broke out during a student walkout Tuesday at Roseway Heights Middle School in Northeast Portland, according to a letter sent home to parents. The walkout was reportedly in response to concerns about sexual harassment incidents among students.
When students arrived at Roseway Heights Middle School for a delayed start Wednesday, there was a visible staff presence outside. Some parents wondered if it was enough.
"It's hard to feel confident and safe sending your kid to school not knowing what's being done but hearing reports the violence is escalating," parent Sally Stauffer said.
"There were kids being chased by mobs of other students and hit," Stauffer said. "My daughter witnessed that firsthand. There's a lot of racism going on. There were fights inside of the school. There were fights outside of the school."
School officials said one student suffered a "medical emergency" during the incident. The student was checked by medics and ultimately returned to class.
"It makes me nervous," parent Tung Nguyen said. "Makes me nervous to have my kid go to school here."
"I'm not happy about it at all," added parent John Clarke. "There's just not a lot I can do because it's the way the schools are run, basically."
Another parent named Latosha was upset about the communication from the school, saying parents hadn't been contacted.
"There was no voicemail, no phone calls, no emails. Nothing was sent out to let us know what was going on in the school," she said. "Contact the parents and make sure that our kids are safe. We're sending our kids here to be in a safe place, " she added.
The Portland Police Bureau was alerted to Tuesday's incident, but only staged officers nearby in case of an emergency. A spokesperson for PPB said officers are "no longer welcome on campus," but a district administrator refuted that claim.
A PPS spokesperson said if a school or district official thought assistance or a police presence was necessary, they would have asked for it.
Stauffer praised the 'safe spaces' the school set up for students to process what happened — one for students of color and another for other students. Stauffer said she hopes it leads to change, but she believes even more needs to happen.
"I think we need some restorative justice measures being taken," she said. "I hear that's in the works. They need to fully staff the school. We have a lot
happening and not a lot of adult support."