Pennsylvania. 11 charged after fights at West Philadelphia High

Eleven West Philadelphia High students were arrested Tuesday after a series of fights – a sign of what some teachers say is a troubled, disorganized school.

Two major conflicts prompted the arrests. In the morning, police were summoned to break up a fight between two girls; as officers were removing students, they found marijuana in one of the young women’s bags.

The larger fight happened about noon in a second-floor hallway. Nine students – eight boys and a girl – were arrested. One of the nine was also charged with assaulting a staffer, the school’s parent ombudsman.

All of the students, who were charged as juveniles, also were suspended. Eight students face disorderly conduct charges, one faces assault charges, one faces charges of making threats, and one faces marijuana-possession charges.

West teachers say the larger melee followed a series of dustups between ninth graders that started earlier in the day, but Philadelphia School District officials say they have no record of those.

No injuries were reported. Principal Ozzie Wright said that he did not know what sparked the trouble, but that he suspected it was rooted in problems from the neighborhood.

There have been other problems. Last month, West students who gathered outside a charter school at 5501 Cedar Ave. started trouble with students from that school, Boys Latin of Philadelphia, according to its chief executive, David Hardy.

One day, some West students blocked the pavement, causing a fight. After school, West students came to taunt the Boys Latin football team, Hardy said.

West just came off the state’s list of “Persistently Dangerous” schools under federal No Child Left Behind legislation, but some worry that won’t last.
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