On Friday, two videos were posted to You Tube of teenagers fighting in the parking lot of Athena High School. The videos show large crowds of students watching fights that occurred just after dismissal on Thursday and Friday of last week. One fight took place in full view of school buses. Several students used their cell phones to record the fights.
According to 13WHAM, police believe the fights were organized in advance. Police were called for two of the fights, but by the time they arrived students had already dispersed. Currently there are 11 young men facing charges, some of whom are not students. Most are 16- and 17-years old; there is an 18-year-old and 19-year-old involved as well. All will be charged with disorderly conduct. One will be charged with two counts of harassment due to hitting a security guard who was trying to break up the fights. The district is still working to identify other students in the videos; other charged could be filed.
The Democrat and Chronicle reported the following statement from the Greece Central School District: “The incidents were immediately reported to police who are working closely with the district to respond with appropriate disciplinary and legal action. Students previously known to be involved in those incidents had already been interviewed and have been suspended and are scheduled for long-term suspension hearings.” Although the use of social media can “inflame,” the district is using the same tools to further identify those involved and “educate students about more appropriate ways to handle disputes.”
While the incidents were immediately reported to the police, parents were not notified until yesterday afternoon. As a parent of a student in the district, I received this message around dismissal time yesterday:
District officials became aware on Monday morning that videos of two fights at Athena High School last week had been posted online. The incidents were immediately reported to police who are working closely with the district to respond with appropriate disciplinary and legal action. Students previously known to be involved in those incidents had already been interviewed and have been suspended and are scheduled for long-term suspension hearings.
Given the video evidence received today, building administrators and district leaders are working to identify other students in the videos and have been interviewing witnesses to obtain more information. Greece Police are also working with school officials to determine whether additional criminal charges are warranted. Additional resources, including school administrators and security staff, will be deployed to Athena to assist with the investigation and response plan.
Altercations between students are never appropriate. The use of social media has the ability to inflame, but we will be using the same tools to improve security and reporting. Thus far, these videos have helped us identify a total of nine students involved and we will use this situation to educate students about more appropriate ways to handle disputes.
Student safety is always our priority and fighting will not be tolerated at any of our schools. The district is currently working with Partners in Restorative Initiatives to expand programs and supports for students so they have the tools necessary to peacefully resolve disagreements.
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