Parents continue to raise concerns about violence in Des Moines Public Schools

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DES MOINES, Iowa – More parents are speaking out about violence in Des Moines Public Schools. Last week, they brought their concerns about a lack of school resource officers to the school board. The board did not do anything about it, leaving some parents feeling frustrated and fearful to send their kids to school.

“It’s ridiculous that there are this many fights going on because when I was in school it wasn’t that bad,” Joy Heathcote, a DMPS alumna with kids in the district, said. 

Heathcote said too often her kids send her violent videos of fights from school, and she’s not alone.

“What’s going on right now, it’s getting worse,” Aveantai Smith, another DMPS parent, said. “It’s not getting better.”

Smith’s kids send her similar scenes, which led to her opinion: “I don’t feel like kids are safe at Des Moines Public Schools at all.”

Both mothers think getting rid of school resource officers has led to more fights. The district points to data showing calls for police assistance are down, but at the same time the district’s own survey found students are feeling less safe.

“It’s such an icky feeling to have to send her to school,” said one foster parent in the district who wants to remain anonymous. “You know, is this the day that something bad is going to happen?”

In place of SROs, administrators have increased the number of campus monitors at high schools and they started training staff on how to de-escalate tense situations.

Still, new videos keep surfacing and even end up on social media, including an Instagram page called “Brody Fights.”

“Nobody’s doing anything. No one’s helping them,” Heathcote said. “No one’s hearing the cries of not only the teachers, but the students, the parents. It’s getting really, really bad.”

A spokesperson with DMPS said this issue will be a part of regular and ongoing discussions between the school board and administrators moving forward.

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