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Officials: Efforts made to avert fight at AMS

December 18, 2010

By BRIAN HAWKINS
sdneditor@bellsouth.net

At least six students will face major disciplinary action from Starkville School District officials in the aftermath of a Thursday afternoon fight at Armstrong Middle School that saw four teachers injured while trying to break it up.
The incident occurred in an upstairs hallway in the main AMS building at the end of the school day on Thursday and was the culmination of a conflict between numerous young girls that had been festering since the night of the Starkville Christmas Parade almost two weeks ago, said AMS Principal Libby Mosley.
Six girls were involved in the fight and were taken into custody by Starkville Police Department officers.
“This is not a school-related incident. This started at the parade with the fight there. The girls involved brought it back to school,” said Mosley on Friday.
Starkville Daily News staff members received multiple phone calls and e-mail messages about the incident on Friday.
Teachers, counselors, peer mediators and administrators at AMS attempted multiple times to intervene in the conflict over the last two weeks, Mosley said.
“We got word there were some problems and that the kids were mouthing off. We had our counselors and peer mediation officers talking with the girls,” Mosley said, noting that the girls’ parents were also contacted and some girls were kept home from school as a result.
School officials were also prepared Friday to deal with any additional problems that resulted from the incident, Mosley said.
The fight Thursday took place after AMS students had finished their last exam for the semester at the end of the school day despite school officials’ attempts to intervene in the conflict between the girls.
Four teachers suffered minor injuries in trying to break up the fight, and three sought medical treatment immediately following the fight, Mosley said.
Walter Gonsoulin, assistant superintendent for operations and federal programs, commended Mosley, the teachers and staff for their intervention in the conflict and attempts to stave off any physical confrontation, as well as the parents who got involved.
“When Mrs. Mosley and others at the school got wind of the situation, they immediately acted on it and tried intervention. They went above and beyond to talk with the students and their parents. Until the fight yesterday, the students involved had not committee any infractions to result in suspension or other disciplinary action,” Gonsoulin said.
“Unfortunately, the girls made a conscious decision to go against the advice of the adults to break the rules and fight.”
Since the students are all juveniles, any criminal actions against the students will likely be handled in Youth Court. SSD officials will be taking quick disciplinary action, Gonsoulin said.
“We will take immediate action and follow the policy book of the Starkville School District. The students will be dealt with in a swift manner and probably not be attending Armstrong Middle School come January,” said Gonsoulin on Friday.
Mosley reiterated that no violent behavior will be tolerated at AMS.
“Armstrong is a safe school. This was an isolated incident that did not begin at school, but was brought on to our campus,” Mosley said.
“The teachers did a phenomenal job in jumping on top of things and calming things down quickly.”

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