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Additional security promised in wake of violence at Port Arthur - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Additional security promised in wake of violence at Port Arthur high school

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PORT ARTHUR -

Port Arthur Independent School District officials are promising higher levels of security at Memorial High School.  The measures were announced at a news conference Friday following a number of incidents in the past two weeks.

Memorial High School Principal Calvin Rice spoke at the news conference. He described a recent fight on campus in which a student and his sister were injured.

"Two students had an exchange of words earlier in the day. They had a physical fight near the buses after school. The sister of one of the students jumped in," said Rice.

Rice went on to say there were large amounts of students in the area of a fight. He said someone did respond and brought a student to the nurse. He said the reason a phone call was not immediately made was because the school had to maintain the environment. He said a call was made to the appropriate people after the student was brought to the nurse's station.

Superintendent Johnny Brown spoke about some of the fallout from the fight.

"They immediately got the student to the nurse. We saw an urgent situation. There are rumors about what happened. This is why we were here today," said Brown.

Principal Rice also spoke about an attack on a special needs student. The attack was caught on video and recently aired exclusively on 12News. Rice said it was initially believed to be gang related, then possibly horseplay.

"We didn't know at the time it was bullying. Until we saw the video, there was no proof it was bullying. The next day is when parent came with video and said it was more than that. Those students were then recommended to alternative education plan," said Rice.

Constable Eddie Collins addressed security issues that have been brought up since the recent fights.

"We found some blind spots," said Collins before describing security measures in place.

"We still have same amount of officers there. We don't want to make it a prison environment. The schools are really safe. We have a few bad apples," said Collins.

Officials say there are from five to seven officers or constables at the school on a normal day.

Collins and other officers in attendance said there are hot spots, places where monitoring needed to take place. He said they have added one additional officer in the back. The Port Arthur Police Department will have police cars patrolling the area after school. The district will have extra staff out in back as well.

"During investigations, we attempt to determine whether the actions were to get away or to participate in fight. We use labels sometimes like ‘special needs.' You automatically think you're jumping someone in a wheel chair. Then you look at horseplay and that the student could get away but was involved instead," said Dr. Brown in his closing statements of the news conference.

"We're not playing politics. This is not about race. We are doing all we can to protect all our students. Out of 1,700 students, we're focused on a very few," said Dr. Brown.

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