Terry High School policies questioned after fight breaks out

TERRY, Miss. (WJTV) – A fight at Terry High School has parents and attorneys talking about how the school operates and how it punishes the students.

There is video of that fight and it is only 10 seconds long, but, in it you see staff and students trading blows.

It’s brought up long standing concerns by parents over how their children are being punished.

Parents say this fight happened on Friday, September 2, 2016 Terry High School.

A spokesperson for Hinds County School District says the video shows a student repeatedly hitting a school resource officer who was trying to stop a fight between two students. It also shows another employee trying to protect the officer by removing a student from the fight.

The school district says employees followed policy.

“I don’t like the way the principal doing things over there with the students.”

Danny Jones says his 16-year-old daughter was arrested after trying to break up the fight between other girls.

“She was trying to be a good citizen and break up the fight. And it went bad from there. They started fighting and she had to fight back. The principal told us one thing but when it’s time to go to court, he says something totally different,” said Jones.

Danny doesn’t want to show his face on camera but he and his wife say they’re fed up with how their daughter has been treated.

“He said that since she told she had been fighting she was part of the fight. He put her in there and said she was part of a group fight.”

Charges against the girl were dropped but she’s been suspended from school.

It’s not the first time parents have been upset.

Terry High came under fire during the 2015 school year, when there were 31 arrests according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“That’s a 400% increase of school based arrests over the past three years. And those arrests were by and large for willful disobedience or other subjectively defined offenses. Students weren’t getting arrested for bringing weapons to school. Students weren’t getting arrested for drugs on campus. Students were being arrested for typical adolescent misbehavior,” said Lydia Wright, with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Wright is working with parents and community leaders to fight what she calls a school to prison pipeline.

SPLC sent Hinds County schools a letter earlier this year.

That letter asks the district to revise its code of conduct.

But so far, no response about that letter from the district.

Wright believes that’s an indication the district is disinterested in changing the culture at the school.

The district has a different response.

In a statement, a spokesperson says, “every school in the district, including Terry High School, has implemented positive behavioral interventions and supports programs.”

Southern Poverty Law Center says they are happy to talk to parents of students.

And if complaints continue to come in, they may take further action like contacting the Departments of Justice and Education and possibly filing litigation against the district.

 

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