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Tension lingers at South Tahoe High School

Rob Bhatt

Students at South Tahoe High School are hoping to avoid further violence in the aftermath of a melee on campus Tuesday afternoon.

“We don’t want this to turn into Los Angeles,” said one female student, a peer counselor for the school’s SMILE program who requested anonymity. “The differences are going to be worked out.”

The peer counselors on Wednesday discussed methods of addressing issues related to the previous day’s fight that resulted in 12 suspensions, including two possible expulsions. These students hope to develop such a program in upcoming days and weeks.

Authorities and school officials have withheld the names of the participants because they are minors.

The peer counselor said many students hope the fight – between rival groups of students – will not be perceived as a racially motivated incident.

The combatants were described as a group of 11th-grade football players against a group of younger kids who were predominantly Hispanic.

The peer counselor noted that one of the football players was Hispanic.

“I think it came down to who you were friends with,” the girl said. “Because it was friends backing up friends.”

The girl also said much tension lingered on the campus Wednesday, particularly among people who were friends with members of both groups.

She urged her peers to not let the incident fuel racial divisiveness.

“We can work it out as a town and as a school because we can save our town and our school,” she said. “We have a lot to worry about, but not as much as a lot of other places.”

A member from each group has been recommended for expulsion, said South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Cameron Carmichael, the department’s high school resource officer.

These two were reportedly involved in a minor scuffle earlier Tuesday.

The two students and friends of each “bumped into each other” during a passing period later in the day, causing a fight to break out “spontaneously,” Carmichael said.

The incident does not appear to have been planned.

Assistant Principal Jack Stafford on Tuesday said the brawl was the result of a lingering grudge between the two groups from a prior fight about a month ago at a Stateline casino.

Carmichael on Wednesday said the members of each group reiterated to school officials that they will not seek retaliation.

“(School officials) are keeping our fingers crossed that this is the end of it,” Carmichael added.

Battery charges are also pending against the two students recommended for expulsion.


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