Reading's Citadel principal asks for help in curbing violence

2 police officers to be placed in school on short-term basis

Author: , Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published: Sep 20 2012 10:03:33 AM EDT   Updated On: Sep 20 2012 11:56:47 AM EDT
Reading Citadel - police presence
READING, Pa. -

The principal of the Reading Intermediate High School sounded the alarm for help Wednesday night and said the violence at the Citadel is out of control.

The principal, Dennis Campbell, demanded at the Reading School Board meeting that police be put in the building immediately.

"We have kids that come up to you and are ready to punch you in the face," said Campbell. "I would be foolish to say and deny that we don't have gang problems. There are students in 8th and 9th grade yelling east side, south side."

Last week, a wild fight over a seat in the cafeteria broke out among those 8th and 9th graders, said police, adding that two students were injured and six were cited.

After school, yet another fight erupted, authorities said.

Some school board members supported the idea of police in the school.

"Putting police in the school is a reactive response, but it's a response that we need to do, at least for the short term. There's no question about it," said Frank Denbowski, school board member.

School officials said 400 students were cited for criminal activity last school year, and this year they said they are on pace to meet that number.

But some board members said investing money in police is not the answer.

"We thought that [police] were the answer for year and years," said Yvonne Stroman, school board president. "We've poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into it, and if we're going to invest in something, we do it in training our security to be just that, security."

At the end of the meeting, the board voted to place two police officers in the school on a short-term basis.

Officials said they are still looking into placing police in the school for the rest of the school year, which could run about $185,000, according to administrators.

Principal Campbell said he will prepare a list of approximately 100 out-of-control students who he said need to be removed from the building immediately.

School board officials said they would help Campbell cut through the red tape in order to get the problematic students out of the building and into alternative education settings.