Fight At High School, Adults Questioned
Date: 2008-11-29 00:00:00
Submitted By: School Fights
STRATFORD -- Under pressure to take action after recent violence at Stratford High School, on Tuesday night the Board of Education expelled a 16-year-old sophomore who had been embroiled in a fight in the school cafeteria Nov. 7. The student and his mother say he is a "scapegoat." The punishment was issued at the first of three expulsion hearings, all of which took place behind closed doors, and were triggered by violent incidents at the high school. The two other hearings are set for Monday at 6:30 and 8 p.m. in the school system's administrative offices on East Broadway. One of those disciplinary hearings will be conducted for the other student involved in the Nov. 7 fight, and the third is likely for the 18-year-old student charged with stabbing a fellow student in a high school classroom Nov. 20. School administrators' swift reaction to disruptions at the school are taking place in the context of a report released last week by the Regional Youth Adult Substance Abuse Project that shows a corresponding rise in threats, weapon possession, alcohol and drug problems among the town's young people. After the Tuesday expulsion decision, the expelled student and his mother, speaking publicly for the first time about the incident, contended he was provoked into "defending himself" by the jealous ex-boyfriend of a female student. The student said he was "trying to walk away after being confronted and punched repeatedly in the face" by Advertisement the 17-year-old senior. "My son is being made the scapegoat here by a school administration and board that don't want the public to know the truth because then they would have to admit there were no adults in the cafeteria at the time of the fight," said Constance Morton, the mother of the 16-year-old student, who declined to give his full name. "If there were all these administrators and teachers there, like the principal and superintendent say, why weren't they at the expulsion hearing to testify? It's because this is all a lie," Morton claimed. The expelled student and his 15-year-old cousin also contend that, contrary to the account of the fight given by school officials, "there were no adults present at all" in the cafeteria when the altercation broke out. They feel the fight could likely have been prevented if adults had been on the scene. Morton said both Stratford High School Principal Margaret Lasek and Supt. of Schools Irene Cornish are "trying to cover this all up and protect themselves and the school system because the other boy in the fight got hurt and they are worried about a big lawsuit." During the fight, according to Morton's son, both he and the 17-year-old fell to the floor, and the other student hit his head on a radiator, causing a bloody head injury. "I have taught my son not to start a fight," Morton said. "But also that he should defend himself when someone attacks him. He had no choice, and it's obvious the principal is lying because how would the fight have gotten so out of hand if there were all these adults in the room?" The police report on the incident indicates that when officers arrived at the school, officials did not appear to be fully aware of what had transpired. Lasek said she was not aware of any faculty member or security guard who saw a fight, according to the report. Police advised her the incident "could not be covered up," according to the report. Officers "also explained to her [Lasek] that it was really hard to believe that no one saw anything with all the people in the cafeteria," the police report states. "I wasn't there, so I cannot say absolutely what happened, but I believe what my principal tells me," Cornish said. The superintendent told a Board of Education meeting earlier in the week that, in keeping with her promise to keep the town's schools safe, there will be "zero tolerance" of any students responsible for violence and disruption in the schools.