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Fight has high school looking for answers

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer

Students and teachers were left saddened and bewildered after racially-charged comments led to a fight among three students at Carrboro High School last Thursday.

According to Principal Jeff Thomas, the fight broke out after a white student made racially charged comments to a black student. After faculty members broke up the fight, one of the students had to be taken to the hospital for injuries and was released later that evening.
According to a police report, the fight involved three offenders, including a 16-year-old black student, a 17-year old white student and a 15-year old black student. According to the report, two of the students fought while the third student struck one of the other students repeatedly.
The students have not yet been charged, according to Carrboro Police Captain J.G. Booker.

Possible charges include assault as well as ethnic intimidation.

“We certainly don’t sanction any hatred language, any ethnic intimidation, and we certainly don’t sanction violence in response to that language,” Thomas said.

“[The fight] has given people in the community the perception that we have a race relation issue,” he added. “I would say, yes we do. I don’t know any high schools that don’t have race relation issues.”

According to Thomas, the incident may have been related to a previous incident in December, in which the white student involved in the fight used a racial slur toward a black student, who was not involved in Thursday’s fight.

The school then enlisted the help of the Dispute Settlement Center to resolve the issues between the black student and the white student.

“There is a large group of African-American students who are pretty angry with this student,” Thomas said. “That in large part is what really motivated the fight last week.”

Thomas said many of the students at the school don’t understand why the fight happened.

“I think there’s a feeling of sadness [among the students],” Thomas said. “A group came to me after school Thursday wanting to talk.

“Their statements to me were, ‘We don’t understand … Why is this happening in our school? We’re all friends.’”

Thomas said the school has brought in additional security and counselors since the fight. In addition, the school is forming a committee of students, staff and parents to create a plan to deal with race issues at the school.

Disciplinary action against the students is pending, Thomas said.

“Racial conflict is obviously not something that’s occurred overnight, and it’s not going to go away overnight,” Thomas said. “We have an opportunity here to make a tremendous difference in our students’ race relations.

“These issues are at all high schools, and they probably don’t get talked about enough.”

  1. John Kramer

    So, why didn’t the dispute settlement center resolve the problem permanently? Are they ineffectual?