A group of concerned parents in the Youngsville attendance area held a town hall meeting on Friday night to discuss how to respond to an apparent increase in behavioral problems at Youngsville Elementary/Middle School.
Last year, the Warren County School District made the decision to place all emotional and autistic support students at YEMS for the current school year.
Five assaults have been reported to the Times Observer by law enforcement since the beginning of the school year. None have been reported in the rest of the WCSD.
Scott Nelson, speaking for the group, addressed the school board at committee meetings last month. The issue will likely be before committees in February.
In the meantime, the group is seeking to raise awareness. Friday's meeting was an effort to that end.
"This is not about those kids or these kids," Nelson said on Friday. "It's about all the kids. We feel collectively everyone is losing. We have parents that we know that have children with learning issues at Youngsville coming from Warren and they're not happy, either."
About 30 people, most of whom have students in school at YEMS, attended the meeting and the frustration about the apparent conditions at YEMS was evident.
Consensus emerged that the driving concern is student safety. To those ends, there was much discussion about a need for the teachers to be trained appropriately. Concern was raised that teachers were not being granted training that they feel they need.
"The bottom line is this (merger) is a budget cut," said Nelson. "I do not agree that budget cuts should interfere with safety."
Youngsville Borough Police Chief Todd Mineweaser was in attendance and noted that the school handles many behavioral issues on its own. He said if he was called for everything that occurs at YEMS the faculty would be strained by court subpoenas.
He acknowledged that the school is "limited in what they can do."
Nelson asked if a guard would help.
Observing improved student behavior when he walks through the halls, Mineweaser said that it would be important "to have the right person. A retired police officer walking through school is a waste of tax dollars." He said the ideal person would be much more involved with the students.
In exploring ways to move forward, Nelson said, "it is going to come to a point where we are going to make some noise," reiterating the the group's goal is student safety.