OAKLEY, Calif. - Oakley parents are concerned over safety at Freedom High School after the principal was hit by students during a fight yesterday. It was caught on camera and it’s circulating social media. The video was sent to KTVU by a parent.
In the video, it appears two students are hitting someone who is on the ground covering their head. The principal, Dr. Steve Amaro, confirms it is him on the ground receiving punches. He tells KTVU he suffered a broken rib.
"I saw a couple of students that were engaged in a yelling match and I tried to talk to them and deescalate the situation, and I was hit a few times," said Dr. Amaro, who is in his first year as principal of Freedom High School. However, he’s been an educator there for 25 years.
"It’s very concerning," said a parent who wanted to remain anonymous. He told KTVU that this is not the first violent incident at the school.
On August 4, the first Friday of the school year, a fight during lunch escalated and a student was later found with a gun in the parking lot. An email sent to parents that day reads, "Oakley PD arrested the student, took the student into custody, and took possession of the weapon."
"My next thought is to physically remove my son from Freedom High School," said the parent.
After Tuesday’s altercation, no public phone call or email went out to the parents. Instead, Principal Amaro responded directly to his students.
"I freed up my schedule and I made sure to go into almost every classroom yesterday," said Amaro. "I needed to go ahead and show the students that Dr. Amaro’s okay. I think it was very important to let the community know we bounce back."
Aside from the broken rib, Principal Amaro may have a few bumps and bruises, but he’s focusing on providing the kids with the best education and raising the scores on standardized tests like the California Science Test, or CAST.
"It’s nothing that kept me away from the job," said Amaro. "Our staff decided earlier in the year that we were going to take one week every quarter and focus on ways to connect students to material in ways that are maybe non-traditional. For example, I went into a history class yesterday and I saw our teachers and seeing our kids compare Voltaire to Eminem. They’re studying enlightenment figures, but how that enlightenment figure compares to somebody today."
It's an educational method called differentiation. The school is participating in Differentiation Week. "These students have greatness in them, it’s about for me helping them meet their maximum potential," said Amaro.
Meanwhile, concerned parents said they’d like to see tighter security on Freedom High’s campus.
"I just really hope that this is a wake-up call," said a parent.
Liberty Union High School District Superintendent Eric Volta said me behavioral issues at school have been especially difficult ever since the pandemic due to distance learning.
"There are a number of students that are still struggling with coming back to on campus learning," said Amaro.
He also said a School Resource Officer on campus filed a police report after the fight Tuesday. KTVU is working to find out if the students involved will be charged.
Superintendent Volta applauds the way Principal Amaro handled the incident. "We need more principals like Steve Amaro," he said.