SAMOHI — A series of fights involving students from Santa Monica High School has resulted in suspensions and a stepped-up police presence near campus, officials say.
The conflict began Jan. 5 after the school day ended, said Sgt. Richard Lewis, a spokesperson for the Santa Monica Police Department.
An argument broke into a fight, and one participant allegedly picked up a scooter and swung at another person, Lewis said.
It’s unclear if the scooter made contact, but the alleged assault got the police involved, including school resource officers who expanded the investigation to the Samohi campus.
Since then, there have been three additional incidents and three suspensions, wrote Principal Laurel Fretz in an e-mail.
“These incidences appear to be isolated to the same small group of young people,” Fretz wrote.
The suspensions appear to have spurred tensions between friends of those disciplined and others who were allegedly involved in the fights, Lewis said.
Another fight broke out Tuesday.
Neither the police nor school administration are calling the incidents race or gang-related at this time, however, posts on social media websites filed under the keyword “Samohi” alluded to gang activity and racial tension between African-American and Latino students.
After the Tuesday fight, Fretz sent out a call and e-mail to parents alerting them to the Jan. 5 conflict and two more, one which had occurred on campus and another which had taken place off campus.
The SMPD fielded extra officers Wednesday and Thursday to prevent additional fights, and Samohi will host a mediation with school board member Oscar de la Torre and the Pico Youth & Family Center at 10:30 a.m. Friday for students connected to the incidents, Fretz wrote.
“As always, SMMUSD, Samohi and SMPD are in communication about happenings in the community and at school to make sure we are all ‘on the same page’ and taking every precaution possible to keep our students safe,” Fretz wrote.
There will be extra security and supervision this week and next, Fretz said.
Parents like Zakiya, who has a child attending Samohi, remain concerned.
“She doesn’t walk home, we’re picking her up,” Zakiya said.
Parents have been considering a carpool system to get kids picked up quickly and keep them away from bus stops, which they now consider unsafe.
The lack of information is frustrating, although Zakiya doesn’t blame the administration.
“I know that [Superintendent Sandra] Lyon and Ms. Fretz are doing everything in their power to keep the children safe,” she said.
School officials will host a Jan. 17 meeting that the administration set up to inform parents about what safety measures are in place to protect students in the wake of a shooting that put a Samohi student in the hospital in December.
That shooting, which occurred in the Ocean Park neighborhood, was determined to be gang-related.
“A lot of parents will be at that meeting because we’re concerned about the safety of our children,” Zakiya said.