PORT ARTHUR — Officials at Port Arthur Independent School District called a news conference to address two incidents of bullying that occurred in the same week at Memorial High School.
Superintendent Johnny Brown and Deputy Superintendent Mark Porterie assured members of the media in a Friday press conference that increased security measures will be implemented as a direct response to the violence experienced by the district.
"All concerned are making sure that our schools operate in accordance with the rules, the policies and the expectations," Brown said at the PAISD administration building. "I've informed Principal Rice that we will support him and staff on issuance of the strongest consequences allowed by district policies and state law as we deal with those who do not follow the rules with respect to distruption of school and safety of students and staff."
Calvin Rice acknowleged the incidents at Memorial.
"The first incident occurred between two young men, and while they were in an altercation, the sister of one of the gentlemen jumped in to the incident," Rice said. "It stemmed from an incident that occurred from an exchange of words earlier in the day. An investigation was conducted, and we found that the two students had never engaged in any activity previous to that specific altercation.
"The second incident, which was viewed in the gymnasium, seven young men were involved in an altercation with another young man. The young men were questioned, and at the time, all of them, including the victim, stated that they were horseplaying. All of those students were removed from the campus and an investigation was enacted. We have spoken to the parents of each one of the individuals. All the students involved have been suspended and recommended for the district's alternative placement program."
Rice said plans had been made to beef up security, including meeting with Constable Eddie Collins and the Port Arthur Police Department.
"We have devised a plan to ensure that all parts of our building will be monitored," he said. "Additionally, our video monitoring system that is operable will be used as well to monitor student activity. We are aware that we are responsible for maintaining a safe and orderly environment for our students to learn, and so we've put things in place to make sure that that happens."
For more on this story, see tomorrow's edition of The News.