Students arrested following after school fights at Greece Athena High School

Posted at: 02/04/2013 5:46 PM
Updated at: 02/04/2013 6:16 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

Eleven students have been arrested after what happened after Greece Athena High School, not one, but two days in row.

Nine students have been suspended from school. In total, there were three fights during dismissal at Greece Athena last Thursday and Friday. Two of those fights were caught on camera and posted on a social media website.

So how could this have happened two days in a row and is the district now considering changing its dismissal policy? News10NBC asked the district those questions and right now those are things they just can't answer. They wouldn't talk on camera, but released a statement saying the students involved have been suspended and some may face long term suspension.

Police say they can't believe the video. It's shocking to watch. Three fights over two days all at one school just after classes got out. Greece Police say they got called to each fight at Athena High School and News10NBC wanted to know if security was increased Friday after what happened the day before.

Lt. Jason Helfer, Greece Police, said, “So officers were going through there, directed patrols on Friday, right around school getting out time which is about quarter to two. But things of this nature erupt so quickly you have to be right there on scene when it happens.”

The video shows school buses in the parking lot and you can hear what sounds like a horn honking as if to call attention to the fight.  During Friday's fight, police say a school security guard stepped in to try and break it up and was punched several times.

Lt. Helfer said, “A lot of times we do have school district employees get involved. A lot of times we tell them not too unless they have too. If there is a group of 50 kids and they are not equipped to do so.”

This year is the first year school resource officers, or SRO's have not been in Greece schools.  Greece Police say they pulled the SROs because of a budget dispute between the town and district.

News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri said, “If you did have those official or dedicated SRO programs  would this have been prevented?

Lt. Helfer said, “I can certainly tell you that if we have SROs in the school on a regular basis, we did develop a lot of  intelligence information, much of that information we saw in years past had to do with pending fights, whether it be on school property of off. So there would have been a lot better chance we would have none of this occurring and we would have done to prevent it from happening.”

News10NBC asked the Greece Police what is being done now to make sure the fighting doesn't continue.
Lt. Helfer said, “We have officers that will be over there in the time being, till whenever we need to be over there around school letting out time to prevent this from happening.”

News10NBC went to Athena to watch the dismissal and we saw at least three Greece Police cruisers there keeping an eye on things. Another issue this brings up is what is the policy at dismissal to make sure kids get on the bus, to their cars and home safe. News10NBC reached out to Greece Schools to see if their policy needs to be changed after last week's fights, they said they will look closely at the policy  and change it if they need to after the review.

Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter statement: "We are going to hold everyone accountable to the fullest extent and thirteen charges are just an example. We will do everything in our power to ensure parents feel that it is safe to send their children to Athena High School. As far as the Greece Police department is concerned, there is no tolerance for violence at any of our schools and perpetrators will be prosecuted."

Greece Central Schools statement: “District officials became aware on Monday morning that videos of two fights at Athena High School last week had been posted online. The incidents were immediately reported to police who are working closely with the district to respond with appropriate disciplinary and legal action. Students previously known to be involved in those incidents had already been interviewed and have been suspended and are scheduled for long-term suspension hearings.
Given the video evidence received today, building administrators and district leaders are working to identify other students in the videos and have been interviewing witnesses to obtain more information. Greece Police are also working with school officials to determine whether additional criminal charges are warranted. Additional resources, including school administrators and security staff, will be deployed to Athena to assist with the investigation and response plan.
Altercations between students are never appropriate. The use of social media has the ability to inflame, but we will be using the same tools to improve security and reporting. Thus far, these videos have helped us identify a total of nine students involved and we will use this situation to educate students about more appropriate ways to handle disputes.
Student safety is always our priority and fighting will not be tolerated at any of our schools. The district is currently working with Partners in Restorative Initiatives to expand programs and supports for students so they have the tools necessary to peacefully resolve disagreements.”