Print Videos capture fights at MUHS
Written by Greg Ruland   
Saturday, 21 May 2011 00:00

Mingus Union High School students recorded and posted online several videos of young men and women fighting at school this year, but the total number of fights actually decreased compared to last year.

Students mill around the courtyard at Mingus Union High School at lunchtime May 11. The MUHS District Governing Board recently asked Dean of Students Allen Mitchell to investigate  incidents of on-campus fights.Vice Principal Allen Mitchell made the statement to the MUHS District Governing Board on Thursday, May 12.

In 2009-10, MUHS reported 39 fights and nine assaults. In 2010-11, the number dropped by nearly 50 percent, with 21 fights and five assaults reported. None of the activity was gang-related.

All those who took part in fights and stayed in school were disciplined according to school policy, including all those pictured in MUHS fight videos, Mitchell said.

Student run-ins were reported to police only five times this year, the result of fights that were more like assaults. Police are not normally contacted for fights where both students actively participate, even if one student is injured and another is not.

The seriousness of the injury and the nature of the attack determines whether an altercation qualifies as a fight or an assault, Mitchell said.

Keeping freshmen and sophomores on campus for lunch periods has not escalated tensions or fights on campus, he said.

If anything, requiring lowerclassmen, the students most likely to engage in fights, to remain on campus during lunch periods allows administrators to respond more quickly to the fights, ending the combat and disciplining participants sooner, Mitchell said.

What disturbed many parents and “embarrassed” board members, chairman Jim Ledbetter said, was the public airing of the school’s dirty laundry, as they say.

A survey of MUHS fight videos posted on YouTube showed students punching, wrestling, grabbing, kicking and cursing at each other. The injuries, if any, appear minor, though it is difficult to be certain due to the poor quality of cell phone videos.

Perhaps the most memorable images are not of amateur fisticuffs, but of students swarming, their cell phones attached at the hand, arms extended for close-up action, rushing to record the melees like paparazzi in a Paris tunnel.

“If they want special attention by posting these videos online, then I think they should get special attention in their discipline,” board member John Tavasci said.

In addition to a review of discipline policy, Tavasci urged Mitchell to consider erecting more video cameras at blind spots that still exist around campus.

Superintendent Tim Foist asked parents concerned about fights to assist by helping administrators monitor the grounds during lunch hours.

Education about fighting, bullying and discipline could also receive greater attention at freshman orientation, he said.

Video of fight posted to YouTube on Aug. 20. Warning: Contains graphic content.

Video of fight posted to YouTube on Nov. 15. Warning: Contains graphic content.

Video of fight posted to YouTube on Nov. 20. Warning: Contains graphic content.