TAMPA (FOX 13) - Some parents and students in Hillsborough County are calling for change, saying fights breaking out between students at one Bay Area high school have gotten out of control.
It was a violent week at Wharton High School. Since last Friday, six separate fights have broken out between students on campus.
“There was a lot of jumping, a lot of people on one person,” said sophomore Junius Banger. “Half the time there’s like a brother or sister and they’re fighting with other brothers and sisters, or boyfriend and girlfriend are fighting, it’s just crazy.”
“Normally when there’s a fight, anyone near it will instantly run towards it and basically block around the fight which makes it harder for the teachers and deputies trying to stop the fight,” sophomore River Drouin said.
Last Friday, a fight between 20 students erupted on the bus ramp at the end of the school day. Tuesday, three brawls happened before 3 p.m. Then on Wednesday, 37 sheriff’s deputies had to be called to the campus to help break-up even more violence.
“This is not a normal thing that happens,” Danny Alvarez with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. “Something has spilled into the school and it escalated to a point where we needed this level of response.”
A school district spokesperson tells FOX 13 News the feuds are stemming from neighborhood issues and posts on social media, adding “The vast majority of the students at Wharton High School are making good choices. This is a small number of students causing a disruption.”
When the week started, the total number of fights for the school year stood at 22, that’s just seven less than all of the last school year.
“It happens very often, I mean, sometimes it could be, everything could be good all the way until seventh period, and then at the end of the day just something bad happens,” Banger said.
Ten students were taken into custody this week, and eleven arrests are pending from Friday’s fight.
Seven months into the school year, the sheriff’s office says 67 people have been arrested so far on campus.
“I think that it’s really sad what’s going on here, but my daughter came to school today, we’re not worried about it,” parent Sharon Hineline said. “We think Wharton’s a great place with great teachers and great administrators, and I really wish that was where we were putting our energy and our time and our focus.”
School officials say Thursday was a quiet school day for students at Wharton High. However, they are taking steps to stop the conflicts.
A second school resource officer will be assigned to the campus for the rest of the school year, and administrators plan to work with the student body to focus on academics and behavior.
The students arrested this week face charges of battery, resisting arrest and disrupting school. We’re told one teen also spit on a deputy.
School officials say many of the pupils will also face disciplinary action.