SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Security is being stepped up at Southwood High School after fights involving students over the past two days have resulted in more than 20 arrests and numerous suspensions.
In a news conference early Friday afternoon, Caddo School Superintendent Dr. Goree, Director of Security Roy Murr, Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, and Director of Security Roy Murry addressed the incidents, emphasizing that the violence on campus involves a very small percentage of the students but that they are taking serious steps to address it.
“They are bringing the neighborhood fights, the neighborhood disturbances or disagreements and then they are coming together at school,” Prator said. “These are gangsters that are coming in from Cedar Grove and different areas of town meeting other gangs and they’re bumping into each other at school.”
This week’s incidents come just a few weeks after a student was arrested, accused of threatening to carry out a shooting at the school in a violent Snapchat message.
Dr. Goree thinks that many of the issues may also be due to transitioning back to campus after doing distance learning during the pandemic. He stressed that the most important factor is a rise in gang-related activity and stated “I think it’s important to note that this will not be tolerated in our schools.”
Additional measures announced Friday include stepping up random searches with metal detectors and increasing security on campus as well as at athletic events.
This comes after more than a dozen students were arrested Thursday for fighting on campus, and another eight students were arrested following a fight Friday morning at Southwood High School.
According to the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office, Friday’s fight broke out around 9:30 a.m. between two groups of girls ages 14 to 17. They were all arrested and charged with disturbing the peace by fighting.
The students have also been suspended pending expulsion and released to their parents.
One parent says he’s concerned for his 18-year-old autistic son, who attends Southwood.
“It could disturb him. I mean it could knock his senses off because he will be too busy worrying about ‘Am I safe here or am I in danger here?'” says James Crites, adding the two-day incident is “nonsense, there shouldn’t be fight like this every day in school.”
Prator says teachers at the school are being put into dangerous situations.
“I feel sorry for the spouses of the teachers that sends them off to war. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. And we can’t let these hoodlums take over.”
In a statement released by the Caddo School District Friday morning, they responded to the recent violence:
Caddo Schools condemns any act of violence. This week our district saw violence from the community make its way onto a school campus. Caddo recognizes the surge of incidents at Southwood High School and as a result, there will be random searches and increased security. We thank our law enforcement partners from the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office for taking this matter seriously and increasing their presence at the high school. District level security has also been increased and will continue to support our schools in maintaining a safe learning environment.The individuals involved in any violent activities will continue to be held accountable by the Sheriff’s Office in accordance with state law. In addition, disciplinary action from the district will also be upheld. School is not the place for violence and we will do everything we can to ensure our schools are the quality learning environments every child deserves.Caddo Parish Public Schools
Due to security concerns, CPSO has sent several deputies to patrol the school grounds. That is in addition to the school board’s increased security.