Fights alarm parents, students, community

Published 2:23 am Monday, November 10, 2008

By By Adam Prestridge
Some of the rumors circulating around town about violence at Escambia County High School are true, and others are false, according to principal Harvey Means.
Thursday afternoon, Means confirmed rumors of fights breaking out at the school throughout the day Wednesday.
"We did have altercations on campus yesterday," Means said Thursday afternoon.
He said a fight involving three to four students broke out and a fight involving two students over a basketball game broke out. In both cases, each student was removed from the school's premises and suspended.
In a separate incident, one student was handcuffed and escorted out of the school's cafeteria after he became "unruly" with school personnel and later officers with the Atmore Police Department.
"If we have to clean house, we'll clean house," Means said. "I'm not going to let a few hinder the educational process."
As for problems arising on Thursday, both Means and Escambia County Superintendent Billy Hines, who was on campus most of the day, said none have occurred.
"It is just rumors, somebody started them with a cell phone," Means said. "Somebody made a call to their parent and it started from there."
Means said he knows parents are concerned, but assures them the staff at ECHS has been monitoring the school and encourages them to have their children at school each day.
"I don't think the rumors today stemmed from yesterday because the kids that were involved in those altercations are no longer here."
Means said Wednesday's incidents did not involve any weapons and also stated that the rumors of an unloaded handgun and a knife being discovered inside the school Thursday morning are false.
"I'm here today because of the rumor mill, the fact that a lot of students have checked out and because the police are here, so I wanted to come down here and give my support to Mr. Means and this school," Hines said.
Students began checking out mid-morning at the school and throughout the rest of the day as the rumors continued to circulate around town.
Hines also said that an Atmore police officer is on campus daily at the school as part of a joint agreement between the APD and the BOE.
As for those involved in altercations involving more than two students or involving a weapon of any kind, Means has come up with a new method of punishment.
Hines agreed on the policy which was put in place two weeks ago.
Means also said he knows of “gang” activity talk, but stated that he will not tolerate any gang activities at ECHS.
Both Means and Hines said they have spoken to each other about the possibility of metal detectors at the school and agreed to revisit it.
For Harvey Means’ complete interview visit

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