School suspends 26 students after brawl
Two students face longer suspensions, principal says
A Halifax-area high school has suspended 26 students after a brawl sent two people to hospital and forced a school lockdown Tuesday.
Cole Harbour District High School announced the suspensions on Wednesday, as RCMP officers patrolled the school building and grounds as an added security measure.
Principal Lynda d'Entremont said the students were suspended for the maximum five days, though she will recommend that two of them appear before a disciplinary committee to determine whether they should be kicked out for the rest of the semester.
"They were both students that jumped in later," d'Entremont said, describing their actions as "far beyond" what would be expected as school staff and RCMP tried to control the melee.
Mounties were called to the school over the noon hour Tuesday to break up a series of fights that spilled out of the main corridor and to the front of the building.
D'Entremont said the fighting started when one student hit another with a bookbag. Others quickly jumped in, she said, as students sent text messages alerting each other about the fight.
"There were some racial comments made," she said, adding tensions at the school are no different than what exists in the society at large.
Two students arrested and released
The school went into lockdown when the fighting erupted, with students told to get to a classroom and stay inside.
Two students were taken to hospital. Two others were arrested and later released without charges but with instructions to stay away from the school, said an RCMP spokesman.
"We'll continue our investigation to determine what appropriate charges should be laid," said Cpl. Joe Taplin.
The RCMP are reviewing the school's security tapes.
Cole Harbour District High, which has more than 1,100 students in Grades 10 to 12, was the scene of a series of brawls in 1997 that nearly forced the closure of the school.
The Nova Scotia government commissioned a report into the matter, which called for zero tolerance of violence and racism; increased security; and mediation.
RCMP to continue patrolling school
But Taplin said the school is usually fairly quiet.
He said the last time police were called to the school was last spring, when there were several bomb threats called in to area schools. Prior to that, there was a brawl about three years ago.
"It's a great student body, and the students usually respect the staff, and the staff respects the students," Taplin said.
RCMP officers will continue to patrol the school over the next few days.
Grade 12 student Jacklyn Lund said she was reassured to see the added security measures Wednesday morning.
"I'm not really that worried, because they're doing a pretty good job at keeping the peace," Lund said.
"They have the back doors locked, and in the morning, they drove the buses around to the front to drop us off so we could all go in one door and be safe."