‘Chaotic’ scene at N.B. high school as parents take kids home due to safety concerns |

Parents of Oromocto High School students say it was a “chaotic” scene at the school as families streamed in to pull their kids out of school on Thursday.

They say nerves are on edge following a vicious brawl Tuesday that saw one teen arrested, followed by a warning of a “potential for violence” at Fredericton High School that saw police officers patrolling the hallways throughout the day Thursday.

Many parents in Oromocto, about 20 kilometres southeast of Fredericton, said they kept their kids home from school Thursday, while dozens of others showed up mid-morning to take them home after hearing of the situation in Fredericton and fearing a similar situation could be brewing at the Oromocto school.

Later in the day, parents were informed that in fact Oromocto had received the same warning of potential violence. 

Oromocto parent Tarra Patriquin said she arrived to pick up her two daughters and found a “chaotic” scene at the school.

“When we arrived, there were parents everywhere,” and students were being called over the P.A. system to report to the office. “By the time we left the school, the parking lot had filled up and parents were scrambling to get their kids.”

Patriquin said she’d had misgivings about sending her kids to school at all Thursday after the violent fight at the school earlier this week.

But after hearing news of the police patrols at Fredericton High School, she said she decided to “err on the side of caution” and bring her daughters home for the day.

Oromocto High School principal Kevin Inch confirmed in an email Thursday that the school had received the same warning of a ‘potential for violence’ that Fredericton High School had. (Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News file photo)

‘Many students’ signed out, district says

Samantha Gardner, who has two daughters at Oromocto High School, said she pulled both girls out of the school Thursday after hearing about what was happening in Fredericton – and doesn’t plan to send them back at all.

Gardner said she’s fed up with the recurring fights and violence among the school’s students, and that she doesn’t think the school or the district is doing enough to curb it.

They “don’t seem to care about our kids,” Gardner said. “I’m taking my kids out of this school … and looking into online schooling.”

Anglophone West School District communications director Jennifer Read said she did not have the student absence count for Oromocto High School.

“However, we do know that many students signed out of school today,” she said in an email.

Later Thursday afternoon, Oromocto High School principal Kevin Inch confirmed in an email to parents that the school had also received a warning of “potential” violence at the school.

“Late last evening, Fredericton High School was advised of information that suggested the potential for violence at their school today. Today, we were informed of this happening at our school,” Inch said in the email.

“While the information about this potential violence had little detail, in the interest of safety for staff and students, a police presence remained at both schools today.”

Inch stressed that he had heard from “many parents” concerned about the safety of their children.

“I have read and listened to each concern,” he said. “I am sharing this message with you today as a response to many and information for all. I hope this will provide some clarity and reassure you of our commitment to safety at the school.”

Police cruisers outside Fredericton High School on Thursday. Fredericton Police officers patrolled the school’s hallways Thursday after receiving information of a ‘potential for violence’ at the school. (CBC News)

Police patrol hallways of FHS

Just one day after the Tuesday brawl in Oromocto, Fredericton High School families received an email from the school which stated that “late this evening, we were advised of information with few details that suggested the potential for violence” at the school on Thursday.

“We met with Anglophone West School District officials and Fredericton City Police Force” to determine next steps, and the decision was made to have police patrol the hallways at different periods throughout the day, the message said.

Patriquin, Gardner and other Oromocto parents say that decision, rather than opting to close the school for day, has further rattled their confidence in the district.

The province has already established a system of online learning and equipped students with laptops and other online learning tools during the pandemic, Patriquin said.

“Not a bad day to utilize them, in my opinion,” she said.

Read said the decision on how to handle the situation in Fredericton was carefully thought out, with all options weighed and with student safety the “biggest priority.”

“Many school administrators, district leaders, and community stakeholders, such as the Fredericton Police Force, have training in violent threat risk assessment (VTRA) and use this model to help assess the risk of violence when information comes forward,” Read said in an email.

She noted the situation was carefully monitored throughout the day by police and school staff, and would have been adjusted if necessary.

“The police force continues its investigation and welcomes the sharing of any information about this matter through their general phone line,” Read said.

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