By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen Independent School District provided a shield for the Killeen Police Department during a two-hour forum organized Monday.
In a community forum organized by KPD that often centers on police issues, KISD dominated the discussion at Killeen Civic and Conference Center Monday.
The topic of discussion mostly centered around how KISD polices its students. Phyllis Jones, Killeen NAACP president, inquired about what has been done to stop the escalating rivalry between Palo Alto and Live Oak Ridge middle schools.
Jennifer Washington, a KISD official, said an estimated 100 students and some adults congregated off-campus in February at Robinette and Elms roads to watch a fight during which one student with a knife was detained.
Washington said what was once an athletic rivalry has grown into fights that could be "the beginning of a gang."
Principals at those school have discussed the issue with students and made changes that have prevented any incidents since February, Washington said.
The question about the middle school rivalries was the first of many for Washington. Dennis Spruill, described an incident where his nephew, whom he raises, was attacked twice last week and bullied several times off-campus and once on campus at Palo Alto.
Spruill came to the meeting feeling his hands were tied because he told his nephew not to fight back but he's being punished for taking the high road. He spoke with Killeen police, school police and administrators, but felt he was not receiving help.
He said after speaking with Davis and Washington he is confident actions will be taken against the bullies and his nephew will be able to attend school without being afraid to walk home.
Julia Villaronga, with the League of United Latin American Citizens, expressed concern that KISD students are given too much leeway and allowed to roam off-campus during lunch hours. Two weeks ago, 41 high school students were detained by KPD while trying to view an off-campus fight during lunch hours.
Washington encouraged residents who believe KISD should close campuses during lunch to attend a school board meeting.
"It takes a community to raise children," Washington said.
All four KISD high schools have lunchtime policies that allow students to leave campus at various times, Washington said.
Davis highlighted the city's juvenile curfew as a way for parents to protect children. He encouraged parents who are uncomfortable telling their children "no" to tell them that going out at night is breaking the law.
The curfew in Killeen forbids juveniles without parental supervision or in an emergency from being out at night from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from midnight until 6 a.m. on weekends. From June 1 until Aug. 15, the curfew is extended from 12:01 a.m. until 6 a.m. the whole week.
"In my house, my curfew was my mother," Councilman Juan Rivera said, emphasizing the need for more parental discipline.
Contact Victor O'Brien at email@example.com or (254) 501-7468.
Several Killeen residents and officers received awards for heroism and service during Monday's community forum.
Medals of Valor (officers)
Meritorious Conduct (officers)
Lifesaver award (officer)
Meritorious Service Awards (residents)
Grant Henderson Jr.