Student fights increase at Salisbury Middle, parents demand change

SALISBURY, Md. – Parents in Wicomico County are likening Salisbury Middle School to a “war zone”. They say teachers have lost control and the school is no longer safe.

Dannelle Mann, the parent of a 6th grader at Salisbury Middle, is speaking out after her daughter was seen getting assaulted in a video.

“Last week, I got a phone call that said I need to get to the school because my daughter had been attacked,” says Mann. “It’s just a lot as a parent to have to send her into what I call a ‘war zone.'”

She tells 47 ABC this didn’t surprise her because she’s seen the red flags, and reported them to the administration. But she feels nothing is being done.

“If the proper precautions had been taken, I really believe that it would not have escalated into an assault,” says Mann.

Laura Brittingham, also a mother of a 6th grader at Salisbury Middle, echoes those same feelings.

“It’s a place to me that sounds like a jailhouse riot,” says Brittingham. She tells us her son would rather switch schools because of the violence.

“He knows, that when he goes to school, there’s going to be a fight. It’s not even ‘what’s going to happen today?’ It’s ‘Oh God another fight is going to happen today’,” says Brittingham.

On Monday, Salisbury Middle put out a robo call to parents acknowledging fights have increased.

47 ABC reached out to the Board of Education about those fights, but received a generic response saying in part that they are committed to providing a safe school environment. And that students involved in fights will be disciplined in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

But for those like Brittingham and Mann, that’s not enough. And now they want other parents to get involved with them, to create change.

“It’s not just about my daughter. I came forward because I want to make a change and I want to see changes happen,” says Mann.

Now all eyes are on the Wicomico County Board Of Ed to see if change is actually made, to create a better learning environment for both students and teachers.

Brittingham and Mann tell 47 ABC that one of the ways parents can make a change is by making their voices heard, including at Wednesday night’s Open Door Session with Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin. That will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Wicomico County Public Schools building. For more information about that session, click here.

In the statement from the Board of Education to 47 ABC, they’re also encouraging families to share their school safety concerns directly with administrators.

See the Board Of Education’s full statement to 47 ABC below:

“The school system is working with administrators and staff at Salisbury Middle School to address issues of student conduct and related parent concerns. The safety of students and staff is our number one priority in every school, every day, and our school-based and Central Office staff are committed to providing a safe school environment. We have teams of dedicated and well-trained professionals who serve our students every day, including, but not limited to, teachers, instructional assistants, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, school resource officers, and administrators. Open and clear communication between families and schools is critical to supporting both student success and a safe school environment for students and staff. When there are school safety concerns, students and parents are encouraged to share those concerns directly with school administrators. School administrators and staff members, with support from the Central Office, can then look into the concern and take appropriate action. Students involved in inappropriate behavior, including fighting, will be disciplined in accordance with the Code of Conduct. By working together, we can best ensure that our schools continue to be excellent places for students to grow, learn, and prepare for college and career. – Supt. Dr. Donna Hanlin”

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