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Vista Ridge meets with parents over school violence

VRHS night.jpg
Posted at 11:40 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 07:48:21-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Administrators at Vista Ridge High School met with parents Thursday evening to provide more specific information about escalating violence taking place at the school last week that led to the cancellation of classes on Monday.

At least one student and a family member are facing criminal charges.

Thursday's meeting was not open to the public. However, parents who attended told News 5 that the videos
shared on social media of the fighting were disturbing.

"It's scary, scary," said Michael Painter. "It's hard to send you kid to somewhere where you're not sure whether they're safe during the day."

Gina Painter said that parents at the meeting learned that the issues with student violence didn't suddenly begin last week.

"They informed us that there were three expulsions on the fourth day of school for fights that happened in the parking lot," Painter said. "And they said there were a couple of other suspensions for fights that have happened that were deemed more mutual."

Sara Jerez's said her daughter has not returned to school since classes were canceled on Monday. She came to the meeting to learn what was being done to address student safety.

"We're just trying to figure out the right time to do that," Jerez said.

She also expressed appreciation for the administration taking the time to hear the concerns of parents.

"Vista Ridge really cares, they had this meeting, they took criticism from parents and they said we're taking your feedback, we're trying to improve, they admitted mistakes," Jerez said.

Painter came away from the meeting wishing the school would have taken more accountability.

"It was just, it was a lot of excuses, and very little accountability," he said. "And very little accountability for the actions that caused us all to be here."

Students are temporarily prohibited from using their cell phones in school.

In an email announcing the parent forum, Principal Dr. Jason DaLee and POWER Zone superintendent Daniel Snowberger said that they would not speak about the specific students involved in the fighting at the meeting because of privacy concerns.

That stance gave Gina Painter the impression that administrators were trying to dodge the issue.

"I felt, for sure, that they brought up very valid points, the parents did, very clearly, and said we appreciate you, we appreciate the officers, but what about this and they just dodged it."

On Monday, the Colorado Springs Police Department reported that the student who was arrested faces charges of Interference with School Staff and for being a Juvenile in Possession of a Firearm. A family member is also facing a misdemeanor charge of failing to safely store a firearm.