BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Students and teachers at Riverside High stood before the Buffalo Board of Education Wednesday night to demand change, two weeks after a student was slashed in the face outside the school.
Riverside teachers say 911 has been called nearly every day since the start of the school year and there are fights almost daily in the high school. One teacher says the 19-year-old who slashed a Riverside student was in the building earlier that day, entering through a side door.
“All the time that we spend here in this fantasy land world when students at Riverside are getting stabbed, there are fights there every single day, 911 is called on a regular basis,” said Marc Bruno, Riverside teacher. “No one has even come into the schools and had a meeting like this and talked to parents, and talked to teachers and talked with our students.”
Teachers and students shared their concerns directly with the board, many of them saying more safety resources are needed, like putting a school resource officer in the building, a drop-in center with mental health professionals and additional security around side doors and entrances.
“The non-student who stabbed a student in our school, guess what door they came in? That same door. They were in the building that day and no one even told us. The DA had to tell us on the news,” said Bruno.
“At this point, any and all options should and must be on the table. I fear the next time we come before you, there will be a body or bodies in our building,” said Kelly Best, Riverside teacher.
“The response to the violence in our building is always reactive not proactive,” said Michelle O’Connell, Riverside teacher. “Riverside needs increased support such as more security officers, an SRO and more mental health professionals.”
“I have had many conversations with my peers regarding the violence at Riverside,” said Senior Class Vice President Tommy Clabeaux. “Many feel vulnerable and are anxious to attend school out of the fear that they will be injured.”
The superintendent is a Riverside graduate and says she has already put things in motion to ease the tensions within the building, but that solving this problem will take time.
“I don’t need to come to a meeting and articulate for everyone when I’m going to homes, calling parents, going to hospitals,” said Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams. “I don’t need to do that. But I do need Riverside to know that you have a superintendent that cares about you and your school.”
Superintendent Dr. Tonja Williams said district leadership and the school’s principal will be meeting Friday to talk about every student at Riverside to create action plans for them.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.