For the second time in as many days, a teacher at Riverside Institute of Technology was injured while trying to break up a fight, the Buffalo teachers union said Thursday.
A woman on the faculty was hurt Wednesday afternoon while attempting to prevent the brawl that broke out at Ontario and Skillen streets, about a mile from the high school, said Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore. Patrol cars had been at the scene, but they left before the fight started, according to the teacher.
On Thursday, a male teacher at Riverside got in the middle of a fight in the school cafeteria and was punched in the face by a student, the union president said.
The male teacher was treated at a local hospital, possibly for a broken nose, Rumore said. The female teacher, who was also struck in the face during Wednesday’s melee on the street, was off from school Thursday with a swollen face, the union president said.
“What’s the district going to do to protect these teachers?” Rumore said Thursday.
“There’s something going on here. Someone needs to investigate what’s causing the fights. Unless something is done, this is not going to stop.”
Rumore suggested that aggressions from Wednesday may have spilled over into the cafeteria incident Thursday, but police and district officials said the two were unrelated.
The altercation in the cafeteria Thursday involved two male students, district officials said. The teacher took a blow to the face while trying to break up the fight. School security intervened, and the boy who struck the teacher was arrested, an official said.
“A priority for the district is to reduce these incidents through increased training for our security staff, the strategic deployment of community-based resources, and proactive intervention and prevention strategies with our students,” Superintendent Kriner Cash said in a statement.
“I have led this work in other districts and I intend to launch similar safety initiatives here in Buffalo after the first of the year.”
The brawl Wednesday was off school grounds and involved students from other schools.
A teacher at Riverside got wind that a fight was being planned Wednesday afternoon outside a gas station at Ontario and Skillen, where there was an incident the previous day.
The teacher informed school administrators, who called Buffalo police.
Police had two patrol cars stationed at the corner, but they left during a shift change, the teacher told The Buffalo News on Thursday.
That’s when a large crowd of teenagers – estimated by the teacher at 200 – began to form on the corner at about 3:30 p.m. More than two dozen youths began fighting, she said. When the teacher tried to intervene, she was struck by a Riverside student.
“He was laughing,” she told The News. “He thought it was funny.”
Police arrived on the scene to restore order and eventually arrested six of the combatants, including the student who punched the teacher.
“The whole time I was thinking, ‘Why did police leave? Why didn’t they believe me?’ ” the teacher said.
Police told her that they didn’t have enough personnel to sit and wait for a fight to happen.
“Police were aware of the situation throughout the day,” said Michael J. DeGeorge, a police spokesman. “And because police were aware of the situation and because they were in the area, they were able to respond quickly, which led to more arrests and possibly prevented more injuries from occurring.”