NC5 Reviews Security Problems At McGavock H.S. - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

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NC5 Reviews Security Problems At McGavock H.S.


They are shocking videos from inside a Metro high school.

Students posted the tapes online and school officials believe they are authentic.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates took a look at security concerns inside Nashville's largest high school and uncovered some disturbing videos and statistics.

One video, titled "McGavock Fight," shows one student attacking a peer. Another video showed students running toward a fight.

Metro Police Sgt. James Wheeler oversees two school resource officers at the school.

"What we're looking at appears to be the hallway of McGavock, possibly the upstairs hallway," Wheeler said watching one of the videos.

"You see what the teacher does? He wasn't hired to be security, but he stepped right in there when he saw the incident take place," he said.

In 2007, police arrested 435 students; 60 were charged with assault and 115 were charged with disorderly fighting.

Judy Cash sends her daughter to McGavock. 

"It actually scares me for her to go to that school," she said.

Cash said her daughter was hurt in a fight involving more than 100 students in cafeteria last year.  Amber Cash was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

"I was terrified. I got hit with a chair," Amber Cash said. "My friend was passed out on the ground, she got hit so bad with the chair."

When asked about supervision, Metro assistant superintendent for student services Ralph Thompson replied, "Those are the very things we've ask.  This is a very large school by square feet and the largest school in the state in terms of enrollment."

McGavock has nearly 3,000 students. But Metro's second-largest high school has nowhere near the arrests.  Antioch High School had 98 arrests last year.  McGavock had more than four times as many.

"We're going to be very forthright.  The numbers are startling.  The numbers are very startling," Thompson said.

Lisa Swiderski's son, Shayne, was hurt in a different attack. He passed out after taking drugs in class. Instead of calling for help, students wrote obscene things all over him.

"There was writing all down his ear inside his ear lobe.  There was some writing maybe some words that were smudged," Swiderski said.

"I'm wondering where the teacher was when this took place," she added.

Gangs are causing the most problems.  Ralph Thompson believes gangs are responsible for the attack in the first video which shows one student walk up to another student who is seated and punch him.

"It certainly seems that we have some cases where a child was being jumped or some initiation," Thompson said.

"Most fights and assaults that occur at McGavock are gang related.  We do see that at this time," Wheeler said.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the state has the option of designating McGavock an unsafe school, which would allow parents to move their children.  But the state hasn't declared McGavock or any other school unsafe.

"With 400 arrests, if this school is not an unsafe school, what is an unsafe school?" asked NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Ben Hall.

"We have no unsafe schools in our district, not even McGavock," Thompson said.

A surveillance tape showed how crowded the halls are every time students change classes.  But McGavock's problems go beyond size.  Thompson said they're a reflection of the overall community.

"We have a school concern.  We're not going to shift that at all, but we have a community, we have a society concern and that can't be shifted either," he said.

So far this year, Metro police have arrested more than 50 students at McGavock.

School officials are focusing on the security concerns at McGavock.  Police have conducted more locker searches than at this time last year.  School officials have also met with Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas.

Officials are interested in creating more small learning communities inside McGavock to try and cut down on the sheer number of students in the hallways.

McGavock has a new principal this year. So far, the number of arrests are on pace to meet last year's level.

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