Parents to meet tonight about VHS fights

Published 1:08 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fights over the past three weeks at Vicksburg High School that resulted in student arrests and a building lockdown have prompted public officials and private citizens to organize meetings to discuss possible solutions and student safety.

Parents and others concerned about conditions at VHS will meet today at 5:30 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus building on Fisher Ferry Road.

“This meeting is about parents getting our questions on paper and getting ourselves lined up to talk to the school board,” said Tina Abney, one of the group that organized the meeting. “It’s not about playing the blame game. It’s to discuss, what are we going to do about the safety of our children going forward.”

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Abney, the mother of a ninth-grade daughter at VHS, said the parents want to ensure a safe environment for their children and might try to take the steps necessary to get on the agenda for the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees monthly business meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Forty-eight hours’ notice is required to request an agenda spot.

At least one parent, Lynda Jackson, has asked for and received permission to address the board.

Jackson, mother of one student and aunt of another, stood outside the school a week ago as nine students were arrested and the school was locked down after a brawl initially reported to E-911 at about 10:30 a.m. indicated 50 students were involved.

Vicksburg police Capt. Bobby Stewart said six girls and three boys 15 to 18 years old were charged with disorderly conduct by fighting. The fight was a carryover from one that had occurred March 17 outside the Wilcox Theatres at The Vicksburg Mall, Stewart said. At that fight, five boys, ages 13 to 18, and one girl, 15, were charged with disorderly conduct by fighting, he said.

No weapons were involved at the VHS fight and no serious injuries were reported. However, a coach was hit when she tried to step in and stop the fight but she did not require medical attention, VWSD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said.

Public officials will gather at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen meets with Swinford, board members and other school and community officials at the district offices, 1500 Mission 66.

Parents and adults in Vicksburg need to take a more active role in helping youths in the community, Mayor Paul Winfield said Friday in announcing that he’d asked for the meeting.

“We need dialogue. This is a community problem, it’s not just one agency shouldering the burden,” he said. “A lot of people blame the teachers and the school system. When you have children, you have to be responsible to the child.”

In addition to last week’s fight at VHS, six students were arrested March 5 after a fight broke out just as school was being released. That brawl spilled out onto the east and west sides of the campus at Drummond and Lee streets. Pepper spray was reportedly used to subdue at least two of the boys.

Also, one student was restrained and pepper spray was used March 9 when the student became aggressive with the principal, Swinford said.

If you go

Meetings to discuss recent fighting and student safety at Vicksburg High School include:

• Today at 5:30 p.m. — Parents and residents, Knights of Columbus building on Fisher Ferry Road.

• Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. — Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen with Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees, superintendent and officials, school district offices, 1500 Mission 66.

• Thursday at 5:30 p.m. — At least one parent has requested time on the agenda to address the VWSD Board of Trustees at its regular monthly business meeting, district offices.