Classroom changes planned after school fight caught on camera

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Indianapolis, IN (January 28, 2015) – Indianapolis Public Schools officials say changes are in the works after an out-of-control classroom brawl that was caught on camera two weeks ago.

The fight broke out Tuesday, January 13, at the Phoenix Academy, which used to be known as Longfellow Middle School.  On that day, one of the school’s teachers did not come to work and a substitute had not arrived.  The school normally maintains a 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio.  But because of the staffing shortage, two classrooms were combined into one, with a single teacher supervising.  The combined classroom is where the fight escalated out of control with students screaming and throwing chairs.

While IPS officials believe the teacher did her best and followed procedure in deescalating the situation, they’re now planning to add more staff at Phoenix Academy to prevent oversized classrooms in the future.  IPS Spokesperson Kristin Cutler released a statement that says “…arrangements have been made to add a classroom assistant to each room for increased supervision as well as another teacher to further reduce class sizes.”

Cutler also says four students involved in the fight have been removed from Phoenix Academy and their parents are being consulted.

Reverend Charles Harrison, of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition says the fight should serve as a warning for parents.

“There are kids that age that are carrying guns today, so that has to be your concern,” Harrison said.

He says the fight that was caught on camera is probably just scratching the surface of underlying problems among students at the school.

“We see this a lot in the neighborhoods, and that’s why you have to be concerned,” Harrison said.  “It doesn’t end at the school.  It’s going to spill over if it’s not dealt with.”

Harrison has spent years working the streets in neighborhoods plagued by violent crime.  He has seen many violent episodes that started as disputes at school.  Some of them have ended in deadly violence.

“Sometimes parents get involved in it, older brothers,” he said.  “Sometimes cliques and gangs get involved in it so that you may have a big brawl that may occur in the streets.”

Harrison believes every parent of every child in the classroom should be called in for a meeting to talk about what sparked the fight.

“You’ve got to get the parents involved,” Harrison said.  “And you’ve got to find out what exactly caused this escalation.  You also have to hold parents accountable for their kids.”

Harrison also believes school officials should involved members of law enforcement and community groups to take part in meetings to root out the underlying factors that sparked the classroom fight.