Campus melee leads to 12 suspensions |

Campus melee leads to 12 suspensions

Rob Bhatt

Twelve South Tahoe High School students were suspended following a brawl Tuesday on campus between rival groups of youngsters.

Two of the participants were cited on assault-and-battery charges and will be referred to the school board for possible expulsion, said Assistant Principal Jack Stafford.

South Lake Tahoe police and school officials withheld the combatants’ names because they are juveniles.

One of the arrested youths allegedly hit another student with a two-by-four, according to initial reports. No other weapons were used.

At least six students were seen by the school nurse for cuts and bruises. None needed emergency medical treatment, Stafford said. However, the nurse did recommend that one student – not struck with the wooden board – see a doctor for treatment of a cut that may need sutures.

After the fight, school administrators organized a group meeting between the participants, a school counselor and a counselor from Tahoe Youth and Family Services. This meeting reportedly ended with the youths agreeing to not seek retaliation.

“The concerns are that we would hope that whatever their differences are, they have been put to rest,” Stafford said Tuesday afternoon. “We do not want another occurrence of this.”

School administrators also contacted the parents of each participant. Associate Principal Karen Ellis said all of the parents were cooperative with school officials.

The fight between the rival groups broke out at about 10:30 a.m. outside the campus wood shop, Stafford said.

Based on initial reports, the incident began with two students fighting each other, with friends of each student quickly joining in the altercation.

During the chaos, one of the students is believed to have grabbed a wooden board lying in the area and allegedly used it to strike another student.

Numerous teachers jumped in to break up the brawl.

The fight was believed precipitated by an incident about a month ago outside Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Stafford added. In that incident, two youths allegedly stepped outside the arcade to fight, and four friends of one youth jumped in and battered the second participant.

Talk about Tuesday’s fight quickly spread across the campus on a day when classes ended at 11:30 a.m. to allow teachers to prepare for the school’s open house.

Stafford said there was “no concrete evidence” suggesting that any of the youths were gang members.

Other students described one the groups as football players and the other group as Hispanic youths.

Simon Ruvalcaba, a high school senior, said some of the Hispanic youths are believed to associate with a gang, but he did not think they are full-fledged gang members. Ruvalcaba did not see the fight but knows that the two groups of youngsters do not like each other.

“This is the same thing as if a gang did fight,” he added.

Besides the possible ties of the Hispanic youths to gangs, Ruvalcaba noted that, like gangs, the football players “are a group of guys that hang out together.”

He hopes that the dispute will not lead to stereotypes of any group of youths.

“I didn’t fight, and I’m Mexican,” he said. “And it was not the whole football team either.”

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