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Willamalane suspends middle school dances after fights

Willamalane Superintendent Michael Wargo said they will have a meeting with staff and the Springfield School District to find out what they can do to improve safety.

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 6:43 PM
Updated: Oct 1, 2018 6:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Willamalane Parks and Recreation is suspending all of their dances at the Bob Keefer Center after three fights broke out at their middle school dance last month.

One of the fights was caught on camera and shared on social media. Celena Carpenter says her 13-year-old daughter is in the video and was hit first.

"My heart dropped to the floor. It was heartbreaking to see my daughter go through that," Carpenter said.

Willamalane Superintendent Michael Wargo said the organization takes the situation seriously and will have a meeting with staff and the Springfield School District to find out what they can do to improve safety. 

"We're not going to move ahead with any other dances until we get all this information and we have a game plan moving forward," Wargo said. "We have a good plan now, but when you are dealing with people, you have to constantly evolve and tweak it to make sure you are meeting the needs of that activity."

Wargo said their staff is trained to identify fights before they happen and they kick students out and notify the parents if kids cause trouble.

But Carpenter said that wasn't the case for her daughter. She said all the staff did was separate them and she found out on her own.

Carpenter said she is now working with her local parent-teacher organization to see if more schools in the Springfield School District can host their own dances. She believes the students will behave better under school supervision.

"I think it's important that we come together as a community and try to make something happen to change this," Carpenter said. "I think doing the dances at our own schools like Thurston does is a great idea."

KEZI 9 News reached out to Springfield School District for comment but didn't hear back.

Wargo said he expects the internal review to be completed in one to two weeks.

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