A mother is raising safety concerns following an attack at Saltfleet District High School that she says left her son hurt.
Hamilton police are investigating the “violent incident” at the Stoney Creek school that involved students being punched and kicked, according to a spokesperson.
Const. Indy Bharaj said police were called to Saltfleet around noon on Wednesday following reports of an “altercation” involving students and some other youth who do not attend the school.
It started with an argument between two groups earlier in the day that then died down, said Bharaj. Then, around noon, three students were approached in the front atrium by a group of six to eight people – two of whom weren’t students at the school, said police.
“An altercation took place where the three individuals were punched and kicked,” said Bharaj.
“There were allegations of a knife being seen during the altercation, though police have no evidence to support these allegations.”
Bharaj said none of the people involved suffered injuries that required medical attention.
Video shows students fighting
A 39-second video showing some of the fight has been shared on social media.
It starts with someone saying “whatcha gonna do” and pushing a person sitting on some steps.
From there, the video shows a person in a black sweater facing someone in an orange coat while someone dressed in all black hits them in the head from behind.
The person in orange appears to lunge toward the person in the sweater and they fall back, while the person dressed in black appears to kick at them.
The camera then turns to show a person in a brown coat appear to swing and kick at another person wearing a hoodie with purple sleeves as they’re pulled back, and someone else pushes between to separate them.
Crystal, whose last name is being withheld because of safety concerns, says her son was hit in the face and his forehead was swollen afterwards.
He was sitting there, looking at his phone when “they just start hitting other people that had absolutely nothing to do with it,” she said.
‘Some kid tried to stab me,’ son texted
Her son texted her with “some kid tried to stab me” shortly after the fight, along with some pictures, she said.
She frantically tried calling the school and her son, she said, but couldn’t get through.
When she saw the video, she said, “I literally got sick to my stomach.”
She said she did not allow her son to return to school on Thursday and pointed to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), saying more needs to be done to keep students safe.
“They don’t deal with anything,” Crystal said.
‘No adults are stepping in’
“They clearly don’t care about safety because they’ve allowed children back in that… do things that put everybody’s safety at risk.”
Shari-Ann Selvey, whose son Devan was fatally stabbed outside his Hamilton high school in 2019, also saw the Saltfleet video on social media.
“It’s absolutely insane and ridiculous that it’s still happening and no adults are stepping in to intervene before it gets to the point of a full-out fight,” she told CBC News.
A CBC analysis in the wake of Devan’s death found inconsistencies with the way the HWDSB tracks violence.
It found the board, like many others in Ontario, repeatedly failed to report accurate figures on violence to the Ministry of Education.
Principal says school is safe
Those issues did not “impact in any way” how schools responded to violent incidents, the board said at the time.
When asked about the incident, the HWDSB forwarded a letter Saltfleet principal Glenn Cook wrote to the school community on Wednesday.
“An altercation between youth in the community led to a group of non-students entering our school,” Cook said in the letter, adding that police are investigating.
“We are reviewing this incident and want you to know that student and staff safety is of utmost importance,” Cook wrote. “The school remains a safe place for students to learn and staff to work.”
The principal also offered a link to tips for adults supporting children “after distressing events.”
“Violent behavior has no place in our schools,” said HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop in an email to CBC.
“The Saltfleet community can be assured that administrators are managing this situation to the best of their abilities.”
That includes “every tool available” in the Safe Schools legislation and board policies, said McKillop.
No charges laid
“This situation may make students anxious or upset,” he wrote, encouraging students and families to reach out to staff.
Bharaj said the “aggressors” fled before police arrived. No charges have been laid, though police have been able to identify most of the parties involved and have been in contact with some of their parents, he said.
Police are continuing to investigate and have viewed video from a school camera that shows the incident
“We do not have any reason at this time to consider this violent incident as an act of bullying,” said Bharaj.
“I’m sure there will be some ramifications from the school side and from the police side… if ends up being suspensions or expulsions or whatever it ends up being.”