gofundme The group of fathers who are part of "Dads on Duty"
Have no fear, the dads are here!
Michael LaFitte Jr. said he was one of several parents who felt compelled to take action after nearly two dozen students got arrested, suspended, or expelled within three days at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, according to Good Morning America.
Wanting to find a way to stop the violence, LaFitte Jr. sat down with four other dads in his office and came up with the idea to start a crisis intervention team at their kids' school called "Dads on Duty USA," GMA reports.
"After about three hours, we came up with the idea to have us be a presence on the campus," LaFitte Jr. told the outlet. "We thought we could be a collective unit to be able to show them that there are strong men who are on the campus."
"Dads on Duty" brings the fathers together as they take shifts protecting the grounds of Southwood High, according to CBS News. While there, they would interact with students in a positive manner while also helping to prevent fighting and violence on campus.
"We're dads," they told CBS News. "We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us."
Though they started with five fathers, the group has since increased their squad to approximately 40 members, CBS News reports.
LaFitte Jr., whose daughter is a junior at the high school, told GMA that they use an independent security company to vet the participating dads and work in shifts with 6-10 dads on campus each day.
The fathers — most of whom work full-time jobs — also make appearances at extracurricular activities and sporting events, according to GMA.
"Although we're titled 'Dad's on Duty,' we also serve as uncle's on duty, we serve as men of the community on duty," LaFitte Jr. explained to the outlet. "Because there are some folks who don't have a father or don't have such a great relationship with their father, and it's our goal to let them see what the right relationship with a male figure is supposed to look like."
"Some days we have long, long days, but we will be at school no matter what," added Zachary Johnson, who has four kids at the school. "When your heart is into whatever you're doing, you make it work."
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In just six weeks, the dads, who wear matching black-and-white "Dad's on Duty" t-shirts, have made their presence known to the school's 1,500 students — and its staff, GMA reports.
"After the fights, there was a heavy police presence at the school and the kids told me they did not like that," Dr. Kim H. Pendleton, the principal of Southwood High, told the outlet. "The dads are from the community. They care and they're committed to being present."
"The kids see them as they're walking in, in the morning," she continued. "They greet the kids. They tell corny jokes. When I do my rounds to classrooms, they walk with me. They're making sure that kids are leaving school safely. People are able to talk to them."
One student added to CBS News: "I immediately felt a form of safety. We stopped fighting; people started going to class."
Due to the success of their group, the dads told GMA they plan to expand "Dads on Duty" into the other schools within their district. One day, they hope to reach all schools around the country.
A GoFundMe page was also launched on their behalf to help them continue patrolling the school grounds.
"We just want people to know that it's possible," Johnson explained to GMA. "We went with it hoping it would make an impact on the school, and now that we see that it's working, we want to take it to other schools."
"We'd like this to be the same as the PTA, something that is in every school in every county," noted LaFitte Jr.
"Because not everybody has a father figure at home – or a male, period, in their life. So just to be here makes a big difference," the dads added to CBS News.