Students return to Harding High School amid concerns over lingering safety issues

As students at Harding High School left the building after their first day back in a week, they described the mood as somber and quiet.

"People weren’t very talkative today," junior Jamie Silver told FOX 9's Rob Olson.

One week earlier, 15-year-old Devin Scott was fatally stabbed during a fight in a school hallway. A 16-year-old is charged with his murder.

Students returned to temporary changes the school hopes increases safety. Reactions from students were mixed.

"I’m glad that they’re happening," said Silver. "I think that they’re good… they needed to happen. I’m glad that they’re happening and I think it’ll be for the better."

Fellow student Fabian Mejia had a different view, in light of several incidents last year, including fights and students caught bringing guns into the building.

"They had the same policies as last year when they wanted us to have escorts or chaperons or whatever they want to call it, but then regardless they just forget about it two weeks later. And then nothing changes," Mejia said.

The biggest changes are increased supervision in hallways and bathrooms, where students told school administration the conflicts arise. During class time, students can only be in a hallway with a chaperone. Escorts are also required to use a bathroom and capacities in bathrooms will be limited.

These are only planned through next week, although the district says they may extend them. Adam Vangsoua, a sophomore, thinks those policies are likely to stay. And he hopes they do.

"That will probably not change," he said. "I mean, like, you have to bring a pass to the bathroom and everything, and then they want you to have an escort, that makes sense."

Meantime, long-term changes are still up for discussion. The St. Paul superintendent said this week he wants community discussions, with parents, teachers and students, to figure out what can be done at schools across the district. Hundreds of teachers signed a letter to the district asking for similar meetings.

St. Paul Police had two officers stationed outside five high schools through Friday. The police chief wants discussions about bringing officers back into schools, a revised version of school resource officers, which were removed in 2020. Students say they would welcome that.

"Yeah, I think they should bring them back," said freshman Sean Braddock. "Because like you never know like when things like this could happen."