September 13, 2015

Arlington Snapshot: 'All Activities Are Cancelled'

Observations from reporting inside Arlington Community High School.

Arlington is rollercoaster, teachers and staff say.

But that would mean there’s a sense of what is coming around the next bend. What can happen in a seven-hour school day here is more unpredictable and volatile.

Take for example, Wednesday Aug. 26:

A social media spat turned into a planned assault that day on a female student by another female student. The impending attack was known among some in the school -- but no one told a teacher.

The chain of events that followed, show how quickly order and calm at Arlington can be derailed.

After the fight, the student who was attacked contacted a 19-year-old family member. That adult then arrived at the Arlington campus and slipped inside the school with a gym class entering the building and attacked the student who had planned the earlier fight.

Parents, whose children were attacked and fighting, cursed and shouted in the school entryway -- inside the doors where students exit for the buses.

An announcement went out over the PA system telling teachers to keep students in classrooms after the final bell but dozens of students bolted from classes, seemingly aware of the unfolding drama with the parents.

Soon after a student who had attempted to enter the principal's office, pushed Law in front of the growing number of students being held back from the entryway.

Then Debra Ward, middle school principal, stood with a bullhorn among the mass of students and ordered the school shut down:

“All activities are cancelled. Everyone to your buses,” her amplified voice said. “If you are on the property after 2:45 you will be considered trespassing.”

That meant, every athlete or student involved in any other activity was headed home. Football and volleyball players hung their heads as coaches shooed their kids outside and told them to go home.

Once inside the principal’s office, the parents continued to shout at Law, Ward and a police officer. Law tried to begin a conversation to discuss what happened but after nearly five minutes they stormed out of the building.

Yet, one of their questions was reasonable: how does an adult sneak into the school and “get on these babies," as one parent yelled.

Days later, Law admitted as much.

“This all could have been prevented if someone had just told a teacher what they knew,” he said about the planned fight. “It would not have turned into … what happened.”

Contact WFYI education reporter Eric Weddle at or call (317) 614-0470. Follow on Twitter: @ericweddle.

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