Education

Fights on camera: Rite of passage or crime on campus?

Posted October 16, 2015 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2015 2:07 p.m. EDT

— Wake County school administrators were not surprised by a video circulating on Facebook of two students involved in a fight at Apex High School earlier this week.

School district spokeswoman Lisa Luten said that fights at school and bystanders recording them on their mobile phones are not uncommon, and that a fight doesn't necessarily lead to suspension or expulsion for the students involved.

"Removing that child from the classroom is not the answer to the problem," she said.

That's a policy that worries some parents and students who feel fights create a dangerous environment.

Apex High sophomore Taylor Griffin said fights happen about once a month. Since the beginning of the school year Raleigh Police have responded to 209 fight calls at the city's eight high schools.

"It was a little scary, but it's almost become a normal thing," she said.

This is a regular occurrence at Apex HS. This happened 10/14/15. Where are the administrators? #2ndlunchAHS

Posted by April Parker on Friday, October 16, 2015

In the video shared Thursday, it takes just 26 seconds for two boys to tussle and one to be punched so hard he falls to the ground and has to be helped up. No adult is visible in the video.

April Raines, mother of a seventh grader at Carnage Middle School, said she felt like leaders there were unresponsive to her worries for her son's safety.

"My son was recently jumped by three eighth graders, and before it happened I actually warned the school about it," she said.

After Jermanic Raines returned home with torn clothing and scratches on his face, his mother pulled him out of school.

For the most part, Luten said, law enforcement officers leave it to school administrators to determine how to discipline those who fight on campus.

Raines and Griffin wonder if that is enough.

"We have a police officer who is always on campus, but I think we should have more sometimes," Griffin said.

Wake County Public School officials released a statement Saturday about their efforts to keep schools safe.

"Keeping our schools safe is a shared responsibility among parents, students and school staff. We expect all students to comply with our code of student conduct. Students who become angry or upset with anyone are encouraged to resolve conflicts peacefully," the statement said. "Teachers, counselors and other school personnel can help students find civil ways to handle disagreements. As a district, we are committed to ensuring that student discipline is handled in a fair and equitable manner. We seek to provide interventions and supports to limit the amount of class time lost due to student discipline."