Violent fights escalating at Markham Woods Middle School, according to worried parents

Parents are scared, considering pulling their children out of school

HEATHROW, Fla. – Parents told News 6 the fights at Markham Woods Middle School are getting more frequent and more violent, happening almost daily.

Parents shared cellphone videos of the fights showing one student running up and attacking a student, another one punching a student in the face and another one pinned to the ground by a staff member in the cafeteria.

Some of the videos show young students terrified, covering their ears and running away from the violence.

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Several parents said they are so scared for their children they’re considering pulling them out of the school.

“There are no consequences for anything, seems to be no discipline and follow up, so that’s where we’re at, nothing’s done,” one parent said. “This is sixth grade, the sixth grade building. Very scary. Who wants to send their kid to that?”

Seminole County schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said all students have been “disciplined accordingly.”

“Student discipline matters are confidential,” Lawrence said. “Specific details cannot be discussed. The school’s administration, district and law enforcement partners will continue to make the safety of its students and staff our number one priority.”

Lawrence said the school sent messages to families addressing the violence.

“The principal and district take all student discipline matters seriously, as do our law enforcement partners that serve as school resource officers or deputies on our campuses,” Lawrence said.

School board member Kristine Kraus said the board is holding a special session on Friday to address the violence.

“We’re working on the social-emotional piece of character development, specifically kindness, reinforcing our code of conduct and we will be addressing all of the issues for all of our students, not just Markham,” Kraus said. “We are concerned. We’re dealing with it, we’re addressing the issues as they arise and just like our community we’re seeing some behaviors we haven’t seen before. The kids are just getting back into the classroom and learning how to be social again and we need to address it. We need to address the code of conduct with them and reinforce it.”

Kraus asked for patience from parents.

“We want you to know that it’s on our radar,” Kraus said. “We are taking positive steps, and it is our number one priority to keep your students safe and we will do that, we will accomplish it. Just give us some time to address the matter.”

Bob Kealing of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they will attend Friday’s special session with the school board.

“The safety and security of students and staff remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to further address these issues,” Kealing said. “The SCSO has extra school resource deputies on campus today. If one of them witnesses an altercation, they will intervene. Additionally, we have juvenile intervention officers on campus who have met with students, families and staff, offering extra resources to try and prevent future disputes or altercations from occurring. We have ongoing conversations with SCPS administration, and we remain committed to preventing these incidents from happening.”

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for News 6 and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting.