The escalating violence at Las Vegas schools has forced Clark County School District officials to re-evaluate the more lax disciplinary policies they imposed in recent years and encouraged them to consider creative solutions to addressing the problem. That’s good news.
On the latter front, the district in March approved a collaboration with a local pastor to implement Dads in Schools, a program in which fathers volunteer to be on campus during school hours to provide guidance and deter conflicts.
“How do we quickly stop the hemorrhaging of violence that we’re seeing?” Tony Martinez, a Las Vegas pastor who brought Dads in Schools to Las Vegas, told the Review-Journal. “You’ve got to stop the bleeding before you can heal.”
Under the program, volunteers will undergo background checks and training and be assigned to a local school. Principals will decide when to deploy participants in an effort to protect kids and maintain good behavior. Mr. Martinez, who has 11 grandchildren in the school district, said 300 volunteers across 80 local campuses have already signed up to take part.
Mr. Martinez’s vision is based in part on Dads on Duty, created last year in response to an outbreak of fights at a Shreveport, Louisiana, high school. The Washington Post reported that, once the fathers began regularly appearing on campus, the number of fights dropped to zero almost immediately.
“It has really made a difference,” the principal of the high school told the Post. “They are very proactive in making sure everyone on campus feels safe.” She called the endeavor “a wonderful way for dads to come on campus and be a positive influence, not just for their children, but for all children.”
The fathers also represent a less threatening presence than an increased school police deployment, which can make many students feel uncomfortable and resentful. The fathers contribute to a friendlier, more relaxed atmosphere in which students feel protected, supported and better able to learn.
“The school district has staff, they have school police, they have deans, they have hall monitors,” Mr. Martinez told Channel 3 news. “But what they don’t have, they don’t have dads. They don’t have somebody in the hallway saying, ‘Get to class’ or, ‘How are you doing’ or telling a funny joke or just looking at them, acknowledging them, seeing them.”
Dads in Schools makes great sense, promotes the importance of parental involvement and has the potential to be a significant force in driving down violent incidents in Clark County schools. In addition, it doesn’t cost the district a dime. In short, it’s a wonderful idea, and Mr. Martinez should be commended for bringing it to Las Vegas.