BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Violence in the community is affecting the Buffalo Public School district as the school year carries on.
"It's happening across the nation. There's an uptick in violence. Period. Schools are a microcosm of what's occurring in greater society," Dr. Casandra Wright, the district's chief of school operations, said.
"We can't blame it on the children. It's the communities fault for not being there for the children when we should have been there the whole time," Pastor Kenny Simmons, with Mad Dads of Buffalo, an anti-violence community group, said.
The district said they restructured their code of conduct to create the safest place for children while helping resolve the issues that may lead to violence.
"What we don't want to have happen is these children are raised by the street community versus the school community. We see those unfortunate instances as an opportunity to intervene," Dr. Wright said.
Dr. Wright said she thinks only one weapon has been brought on school grounds so far this year.
"When there is an unfortunate instance, and I think there was one where some type of weapon was brought into the school, there's a swift response," Dr. Wright said.
But on September 23rd, during a meeting between the Board of Education and District Attorney John Flynn, Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said the issue is bigger than that.
"I've got 9-year-olds with loaded guns inside schools. I've got gang members both afraid to come to school because of the beef going on. Then, of course, I have issues outside and around school almost daily," Dr. Cash said.
Flynn said his office has noticed more kids are bringing weapons to schools this year than in years past.
"We've seen an increase in the number of kids who are bringing weapons to school. It's not an outrageous increase, but there's definitely an increase in the amount of kids who are getting caught with not only weapons off of school grounds, but on school grounds," Flynn said.
Flynn has created a mentorship program where 10 at-risk youth, identified by the district, work with different members of his team.
"I can, I think, help on the front end, which is what I'm trying to do now with this high risk program," Flynn said.
Mad Dads of Buffalo also wants to help the district by being present at school dismissals. They said the district can't solve this alone.
"What I believe is they need more help from the community. They need more help from the moms and the dads teaching their kids to behave in the proper manner," Pastor Simmons said.