Almost 40 dads have pledged their time and effort into securing the safety and wellbeing of students at Southwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, which recently experienced a spike in the number of violent crimes.
They formed "Dads on Duty," a group of volunteer dads who pledged to take shifts at the school to monitor students' activities and prevent disorder.
"We're dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us," the group's founder, Michael LaFitte, told CBN News.
Southwood High School recently saw as much as 23 students arrested in the span of three days due to fighting in the school. The disorder and subsequent arrests fell down to zero as soon as the Dads on Duty took to their posts in the school, where they welcome students in the morning and maintain peace throughout the day.
A student even admitted that the fighting immediately stopped upon the arrival of the Dads on Duty, whose presence made them feel safe. The student said, "People started going to class. I immediately felt a form of safety."
Another student shared, "The school has just been happy - and you can feel it." Another high schooler attributed it to the dad jokes, sharing, "They just make funny jokes like, 'Oh, hey, your shoe is untied,' but it's really not untied."
LaFitte, who according to Yahoo! News is also known in the Shreveport community as president of the city's NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) chapter, admitted that there has been some dad jokes, saying that "They hate it! They're so embarrassed by it."
The coalition of Shreveport fathers said they intend to continue serving as Dads on Duty indefinitely and hope to see similar groups across Louisiana and even the United States. The dads shared, "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."
Dads on Duty also got a stamp of approval from Southwood High School principal Kim Pendleton, who said that the students do enjoy having the volunteer fathers around because it's a familiar face from church or their neighborhood. Pendleton hopes that other parents would get involved as well.
As the NAACP president, LaFitte is no stranger to conflict. Before the Dads on Duty founder was elected in March, the chapter had seen internal conflict that he hopes to address while he is president. Describing "some tumultuous" since the last election, LaFitte said that he hopes to bring the "infighting" to an end within the organization.
"Once we get a handle on the infighting, we're going to make sure that we tackle the things in our community, whether that be city government, police, and fire or whether that be with the regular things and or issues of citizens here in Shreveport-Caddo," LaFitte said.