GDOE upholds zero-tolerance policy on violence

This article was originally published on K57 on January 20, 2022.

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)



The Guam Department of Education came out hard against violence in schools in a press meeting yesterday.

Their censure came out in response to a riot that broke out on Friday at Southern High School, marking the third, public act of violence in school within a month.

Deputy Superintendent of Assessment & Accountability Erika Cruz says the cluster does not represent a growing pattern of violence at GDOE schools.

The modified lockdown

Superintendent Jon Fernandez said that he will take decisive action to uphold GDOE’s no-tolerance policy for violence. He mentions that he supports Southern High School administration in their decision to have a modified lockdown, “especially in light of one student needing to go to the hospital. . . . We certainly want to get ahead of this issue and to remind our parents, guardians, and students we cannot tolerate violent activities on our campus.

“All those who instigate, abet, and assist–those activities are all covered under policies for potential disciplinary action.”

Both parents and teachers have expressed their upset for the modified lockdown because of lack of communication from SHS administration. They had not realized that the school was planning on the lockdown and many teachers reported that they sat around their classrooms, waiting for their students to come in, but no one came in.

It wasn’t until teachers stepped out that they found out there was a lockdown and all students were held up in the school gym for approximately 3 hours.

However, though parents and teachers did not know the lockdown was going to happen, students did. A Southern High administrator said the information “circled around Instagram.”

National trends

The rash of violence in GDOE schools comes at a time when the number of violent acts, namely gun violence, according to the Washington Post, against children has nearly doubled.

Despite national trends, however, Cruz said that they have made no changes to the current board policy. She and Fernandez maintain that in Guam, there is no such evidence for a need to increase safety protocol relative to school safety.

“We still continue to follow the current board policy that we have in place,” said Cruz. “We have not made changes relative to that board policy; however, school administrators are required to do random searches.”

The recent cluster of fights do not represent any statistical abnormalities, Cruz repeats. “It typically happens . . . between February [and] May where kids are little more rowdy and little more difficult to work with, especially at the high school level.”

To read more about the modified lockdown, click here.