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Pasadena School Grapples With Ongoing Fallout of Student Fights That Swept Campus in Early October

Fights across Marshall Fundamental led to lockdown on October 6, school struggling to hire additional security guards

Published on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 | 5:28 am

Marshall Fundamental Principal Lori Touloumian on Monday emphasized the need for the school to have additional security guards following an outbreak of student fights one day last month that ended in a lockdown. 

During a Marshall Fundamental School Safety Meeting with parents on Monday, Touloumian said multiple altercations involving high school students had occurred at the school’s North Quad during nutrition break on October 6, prompting the school to call for a lockdown. 

“There was one altercation which sparked multiple other mini-fights to happen literally at the same time,” Touloumian said.

“We responded to the altercation by having administration, security, staff, teachers, whoever was present [do] their very best to try to bring control to the multiple altercations that were happening at the same time.”

The lockdown lasted until lunchtime, said Touloumian, giving the administration time to contact all parents and inform them about the incident.

“The reason why we had to bring calm to the campus and call for a lockdown was because our students were literally not listening to us and so we had to use our most egregious measure of bringing control to the campus.”

There were no injuries that required immediate medical attention and there were no arrests made following the incident. There were also no weapons found on any student.

Touloumian said the consequences that were implemented that day included suspension and recommendation for expulsion for certain students identified held as responsible.

According to Touloumian, altercations have continued to recur after the incident, but these smaller incidents have been more manageable compared to the October 6 incident. 

“The conflicts between students still occur and so we are addressing them as best we can with interventions first.” 

“We were able to de-escalate a lot quicker now.” 

Touloumian said students have been helping them in keeping the campus safe as they are now reporting incidents that are happening on campus. “They want to have a safe school,” Touloumian said. 

After the October 6 incident, the school staff met with all of its students every Monday last October to remind them about the school’s protocols, mission and vision and values.

“[We] remind students that we are held to a very high standard of behavior at Marshall and that what happened on October 6 should never happen again.”

Touloumian said “restorative circles” are being implemented which involve staff and students to understand what are the underlying issues as to why students are coming to campus with so much anger and that much aggression.

Stricter security measures are also being implemented on campus. 

Currently, there are 25 working cameras on campus that offer surveillance 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The school has four full-time and one part-time security personnel. 

Touloumian said the district allowed Marshall Fundamental to have six security personnel but the school has not yet hired for these positions because so few people have applied. The school offered to hire two people, but they declined the job, Touloumian reported.

“We have the funding for these positions but we don’t have many people who are applying to be security guards.” 

“We have hired two since that incident and both have declined. We went through the entire process and [then] they declined the position for whatever personal reason they may have.” 

She urged parents to help the school find candidates for the position to help the school implement stricter security measures. 

She said candidates can apply on or search for the available positions on the Pasadena Unified School District website. 

The next safety meeting for parents will be held in January, according to Touloumian.

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