NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News middle school is piloting a new program to control the number of fights between students.

From March until today, school staff say there have been at least eight fights at Gildersleeve Middle School.

One that 10 On Your Side first told you about last month involved a student’s mother allegedly assaulting another student in the cafeteria before escaping the building.

A Newport News Public Schools spokesperson tells 10 On Your Side Gildersleeve Middle School is the only school in the district piloting the e-Hall pass and doing so on a 60-day trial. The program, which Gildersleeve launched April 11, utilizes technology to keep track of students when they’re not in class.

Teachers who wish to remain anonymous told us every time a student needs to use the bathroom or leave class, they’ll ask a teacher to generate an electronic pass through the e-Hall pass website. Students use a link on their Chromebook to request a pass, which then pings on a teacher’s computer to accept or deny. If a student doesn’t return within a timely manner, then teachers must follow protocol by alerting administration or school security.

“It will cut down on children waiting outside of bathrooms and in the hallway, which tends to cause problems. In other words if they’re waiting at least they’ll be waiting in the classroom instead of in the hallway,” the teacher explained.

The program also allows school administrators to see how many people are out in the hallway, how long they’ve been out of class and limit the number of passes accepted for certain locations.

The teachers we spoke with told us they don’t think the program is enough to help stop fights in school, but it’s a start.

“I think it’s too soon to call yet. I’m cautiously optimistic but I don’t think it’s going to eliminate fights,” the teacher said.

Parents like Gildersleeve father Troy Sorensen agree. He told us he’s contacted Gildersleeve’s principal and the district superintendent several times about his concerns with violence in school — one fight which happened just a few feet away from his 8th grade daughter.

“There needs to be hall monitors. There needs to be a physical presence. Not a little device that’s going to say hey it’s time to get back in class,” Sorensen stated.

Once the 60-day trial period is up, Gildersleeve can decide to keep or get rid of the program. If they like it, it could be expanded district-wide. Schools don’t need parent approval to use the program with students.

“The major downside is the teacher who’s actively up and teaching, to have it running in the background and audibly beeping when a pass comes through so I know I have to walk back to a computer, accept or decline a pass and when a child comes back into the room I have to do the same thing,” a teacher said.