One student was hospitalized following a series of fistfights at Braswell High School on Tuesday afternoon.
At least one fight began toward the end of the school day, and at least two more began after the school day ended at 4:10 p.m.
Numerous videos posted online show groups of students swinging wildly at one another in a campus hallway, dropping backpacks to the ground before throwing punches. Bystanders can be heard screaming obscenities, laughing or yelling in shock just above the background roar.
Teachers and staff can be seen pulling teenagers apart while in the midst of the brawls with students screaming and rushing past at every side.
Derrick Jackson, a Denton ISD spokesman, confirmed Wednesday afternoon that one teacher received a bloody nose but did not require hospitalization.
“As a precaution, one student was transported by emergency personnel,” Principal Lesli Guajardo wrote in an email to parents sent Wednesday morning. “We cannot share details or information regarding the individuals directly involved due to disciplinary actions. It is also important to know that no weapons were used or found on campus.”
At the edges of each swing or shove, dozens more students can be seen watching, filming or cheering. Jackson said the district is discussing what punishments the students recording or cheering should face.
“These students increase the level of danger in situations like these and could also face consequences,” Guajardo wrote.
Lisa Carillo has one child at Braswell and another who will attend in a few years. She said she hears about fights at Braswell just about every day. After hearing about Tuesday’s fights, she eventually found several videos posted to social media.
“I was completely appalled,” Carillo said.
She said her family moved into the Union Park master-planned community thinking it would be safe, but she’s having second thoughts.
“We thought we were making the right decision,” she said.
According to discipline data obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle, there were 108 instances of fighting/mutual combat noted by administrators at Braswell High School during the 2018-19 school year. That’s approximately 28% of all such charges reported across the district last year.
There were three instances of assault noted during the same time period.
While Carillo was initially frustrated with administrators’ responses and handling of the situation, she said Wednesday evening she’d heard enough to think Denton ISD could come away from the event with some positive changes.
Jackson said investigations continued through Tuesday night and were ongoing as of Wednesday afternoon.
While he couldn’t confirm the exact number — or give an estimate — of how many students were involved, students who definitely participated will not be allowed on campus for at least three days, corresponding with the district’s due process policy.
While no charges had been filed by 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jackson said it is possible that some students could be charged with assault, as opposed to the lesser school punishment for fighting.
In addition to the two school resource officers working on campus, Little Elm police were called and quickly responded Tuesday afternoon. Additional officers were on campus Wednesday, Jackson said, and there will be an increased police presence for at least a few weeks going forward.
“Obviously fighting happens at every school,” Jackson said, but it’s the sheer number of altercations that happened Tuesday that bothers Denton ISD administrators the most.
“It’s pretty rare that you get that many instances in one day,” he said.
At this point, he said nobody seems sure exactly what prompted the melees. Guajardo, Jackson and Superintendent Jamie Wilson all wrote or spoke gravely about the fights, and all said that punishments are impending for those involved.
“Our community has high expectations of our students and staff, to that end the behavior of these students is inexcusable,” Wilson wrote Tuesday afternoon.
According to the Denton ISD student code of conduct, a variety of punishments are available depending upon what specific infractions a student is found to have made. Punishments range from a three-day suspension to relocation to the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program and/or criminal prosecution.
MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.