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Parents raise concerns about fights at school. City leaders say anti-bullying law "effective".

Posted at 6:15 PM, Nov 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-29 18:15:42-05

Cell phone video of two separate fights at North Tonawanda High School surfaced on social media, Thursday. Two parents of students in the district reached out to 7 Eyewitness News saying incidents like this happen "almost every week".

One of the parents said her son told her both fights happened Wednesday. Both asked for their names not to be published out of concern for their children.

7 Eyewitness News reached out to North Tonawanda City Schools to ask about the fights and to discuss bullying and safety in the schools. Superintendent Gregory Woytila said he has "no comment".

Last October, the city of North Tonawanda expanded a local law that now holds parents accountable when their children are caught bullying. Parents can face a $250 fine or up to 15 days in jail under the ordinance.

According to the North Tonawanda Police Department, nobody has faced either of those penalties since the law was adopted. Police have spoken to a number of parents, but have only sent one formal warning letter to one parent under the law.

That's not to say the law isn't working, according to the department.

"I think the ordinance has acted as a deterrent," Police Chief Roger Zgolak said. "We still periodically get a complaint of bullying whether it's through the school system or parents themselves. But it has dropped off considerably since the ordinance went into effect."

Bullying complaints to the police department and mayor's office have both dropped since the law went into effect. Mayor Art Pappas says complaints to his office "are practically down to zero".

"We think it's been very effective," Mayor Pappas said. "Bullying is wrong. Bullying is being looked at, investigated. Cases are taken seriously and we will take action if we have to."

The police department is aware of the fight videos circulating social media, but says "the school district is handling it". North Tonawanda City Schools would not comment, so it is unclear how many incidents of violence and bullying it has dealt with since the new law went into effect.

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