San Francisco middle school descends into ‘Lord of the Flies’ environment

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Aptos Middle School is located in San Francisco and, from the outside, appears like an ordinary school. But today the San Francisco Chronicle reports a small group of disruptive students, somewhere between 5 and 20, have turned it into something reminiscent of the Lord of the Flies. And, at least so far, school authorities seem unable to do much about it:

One of the scariest incidents at Aptos this school year occurred in September, when two girls attacked a sixth-grade girl on the schoolyard. The girls pulled the sixth-grader to the ground by her hair, pulled a chunk of it out of her skull and kicked her in the face and the back of her head…

School administrators held a “restorative justice” meeting with the families of each girl. That’s the school district’s preferred way of resolving disputes, and it centers on mediation and acknowledging harm.

“There were no apologies,” [the victim’s mother] said. “When asked specifically what they would do differently, the girl said, ‘Well, I guess I wouldn’t have kicked her in the face.’… Those girls have approached her multiple times since then and said, ‘You better keep your mouth shut, you little bitch.’”…

“It’s kind of ‘Lord of the Flies’ around here,” [the mother] said.

The schools previous principal and assistant principal left recently and the new principal seems to have a different view of school discipline. It has become normal for kids (ages 11 to 14) to wander through the halls, enter classes they are not in, and direct bad language at other students and teachers.

The language tolerated at school is horrific, students said. Kids use homophobic slurs, call girls “ho’s,” and a mother said she heard a student tell a teacher, “F— you, you motherf—ing n—” in front of other adults, and none of them did anything.

The reporter who wrote the story encounter two girls at the school’s entrance during classes on one of her visits. One of the girls stared at her and called her a “Bitch.” Teachers at the school have been complaining about the situation since the fall:

“I didn’t sign up to be physically threatened and verbally abused on a daily basis, and I am fed up,” one teacher wrote to the entire staff last fall in an email describing the unbearable situation.

Since then, not much has changed. It sounds like the new principal is simply not up to the job of maintaining order. Unless that changes, things could continue to get worse. And that’s serious because bullying and fights can be deadly at this age if not dealt with.

Last year, Aptos was judged a low-performing school (though not one of the lowest) in San Francisco. That’s also not going to change so long as the school can’t maintain order. Hopefully this news story will produce some change.





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