(December 16, 2005, posted 2:10 p.m.) -- After noontime fights broke out yesterday (Dec. 15) at NLB's Jordan High School, the school's co-principals sent a letter home to parents saying that in addition to security-related actions, "the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) will be working with several of our students" and the "physical education department will meet with all students to discuss solutions to the climate on our campus."
LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou, who provided the letter's text to LBReport.com on request, said law enforcement and school district officials "have no concrete information that this particular fight was racially motivated. We have very diverse populations at all of our schools and when something happen it may involve students from a wide variety of races and cultures."
But the letter's verbiage -- refering to "the climate on our campus" and citing the involvement of NCCJ, a non-profit human relations group -- invites the inference that the disturbance had a racial component or reflects a racially-sensitive atmosphere.
Asked about this by LBReport.com, Mr. Eftychiou said NCCJ has been working with the school for a number of years...and the physical education teachers will help educate students "on the importance of respecting their fellow human beings regardless of their skin or culture." He noted that NCCJ's program has been "very effective and students that go through it are very well behaved."
Mr. Eftychiou noted that the letter parallels correspondence sent over a year ago when work began on improving the campus climate. "There has been much improvement since t5hen, with students having the additional instruction and talking through issues," he said.
He added that LBUSD is applying a "multi-pronged approach: additional security, and even without concrete indication that's racially motivated, it's being used as a teachable moment to educate youngsters on the importance of respecting one another."
The December 15 disturbance began at about 12:30 p.m. among about twenty students in the midst of about 200 students in the school's quad area, Mr. Eftychiou said. "As many as twenty students, give or take, were involved in some way, either fighting or egging people on," he said.
Mr. Eftychiou said the situation was controlled within a few minutes and no arrests or major injuries were reported...but as a precaution school was dismissed in stages at about 1:30 p.m. instead of the usual 2:40 p.m. Additional school safety and LBPD personnel were on campus today (Dec. 16).
Mr. Eftychiou noted that for now, there's no officially determined cause to the fight and exactly how it got started has yet to be determined by law enforcement.
Mr. Eftychiou said an ID badge system was effective in dealing with the disturbance. Students are required to wear their IDs on lanyards around their necks and show them when they come in for the day; those involved in the disturbance immediately had their ID's confiscated by school officials "so the school was quickly able to develop a thorough list of who was and wasn't involved and is cooperating with law enforcement on possible arrests," Mr. Eftychiou said.
Those involved in yesterday's fighting face possible arrest or expulsion; three students were arrested Dec. 15, three more were arrested Dec. 16 "and we may see more," Mr. Eftychiou said. He added that about 15-20 suspensions were also in the works. There's one more week of school before the winter/new year break, which begins Dec. 23.
The letter to parents of Jordan High students said, "Any student fighting or trying to incite disruption will face severe consequences" and indicated that in addition to the ID requirement, a "metal detector want will be used at each [school] entrance," the school's "dress code will be strictly enforced" and "cell phones must not be visible and not in use while on campus."
The campus is quiet as we post at 2:10 p.m. amid a sizable presence of LBPD and LBUSD personnel and campus dismissal scheduled for 2:40 p.m.