INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Public Schools are investigating after cell phone video captured a violent fight involving a male student beating up a female student at Northwest High School.
The video shows a male student viciously beating a girl while a teacher demands that he stop. The beating continues for under a minute, with the male student pulling the girl’s hair, throwing her to the floor and repeatedly hitting her in the face.
The video is difficult and painful to watch, yet students say what it shows is not uncommon at Northwest.
“It’s normal. It’s an everyday thing,” said senior Audumn Jessee.
The brutal fight, recorded on video, was in the school hallway Tuesday. Students say it was just one of seven fights at school that day.
Senior Omir Gonzalez witnessed four of them personally.
“There was blood. A lot of hair that was thrown on the floor,” Gonzalez recalled.
Tim Lawhorn, who lives across the street from the high school, and used to work security at the apartment complex there, says he often sees fights spill outside the school.
“It happens quite a bit out here – lot of the guys talking about fights and people planning on fighting. Several times we’ve had to chase them off,” Lawhorn said
In this case, a boy badly beat up a girl, with students looking on.
“Look at all those guys standing around…and not attempting to do anything,” Lawhorn said, while watching video of the fight.
That video shows a staff member, there when the fight started, scream at the students to stop.
But he doesn’t intervene physically.
“The reason why that staff member did not mess in was because there was consideration that other people were gonna jump in and also attack,” Gonzalez said.
“I understand it,” Lawhorn said. “It’s bad because there’s nothing those staff members can do but try to do it verbally and that doesn’t work.”
IPS says in situations like this, staffers are not allowed to put their hands on students. Protocol and policy is to diffuse the situation verbally.
Craig Blume is with the Indiana State Teachers Association. He says under those board rules, teachers cannot physically break up fights.
“You’re hired to work under that policy. You have to follow it. A willful refusal to follow a board policy rule or regulation or direct order will get you fired immediately for insubordination,” Blume explained.
Without a policy change, Blume says the teachers’ response won’t change. Getting physically involved, he says, could mean a lawsuit, the loss of their job and further injuries.
“If he’d gotten involved and gotten injured, and then the kid got up and started beating on some other students, is he negligent because he allowed himself to get hurt and didn’t protect the rest of the students? Somebody will, a lawyer certainly will make a case out of that any way you go,” Blume said. “It’s not like the old days for teachers. It’s a tough call and really a scary situation. You have an interest in protecting the students but you also have an interest in making sure you don’t get harmed.”
In Tuesday’s fight, students eventually intervened.
But it took awhile.
Some say the kids need to do more to protect each other and lessen the violence in school.
“Basically just be a hero. Go stop it,” Lawhorn said. “Don’t allow people to do that, not in your presence. Then maybe the message will spread to other students, too.”
Eyewitness News spoke with the victim’s mother. She told us her daughter is okay and was treated at school for minor injuries. She also says she’s upset that the boys in that video just stood around and watched while girls tried to stop the fight.
What’s unclear from the video – how close IPS police officers were to the incident and how quickly they responded.
Meanwhile, an IPS spokesperson says they’re arranging disciplinary action and, along with IPS Police, are working with the prosecutor on any possible charges.
Eyewitness News has obtained video of a fight in the hallway at Northwest High School. WTHR confirmed that the incident occurred Tuesday.
IPS Schools issued this statement concerning the teacher’s actions:
“Northwest Community High School protocol calls for staff members to diffuse the situation verbally, then signal for support from administration and school police. School and district administrators are arranging appropriate disciplinary action, and IPS Police officers are collaborating with the prosecutor’s office to determine any potential legal actions. Indianapolis Public Schools’ lead administrators are investigating today’s situation at Northwest to ensure our students are served in the best possible ways.”