Charleston school sought additional security measures after fight with 10 students

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 3:25 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 4, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After a fight involving 10 students at Septima P. Clark Academy last April, the school’s assistant principal requested three changes, none of which was fully granted.

The April 25 incident at the school prompted Assistant Principal Michelle Robinson to reach out to Department of Alternative Programs and Services Executive Director Jennifer Coker on May 11. Robinson requested an extra school resource officer, a student concern specialist and to order the students involved to remain under virtual instruction for the remainder of the school year.

Robinson wrote to Coker after the students involved in the fight had returned, claiming the students were sending messages and making statements about fighting. She warned about a group of eight boys who she believed were using school bathrooms as a place to meet potentially for a gang or “fight club.”

Coker replied to the email saying they didn’t have any additional student concern specialists that could help at the school. She said she would check on an SRO, though no promises were made and it doesn’t appear an additional SRO was ever brought in. She also said the students couldn’t be forced to go virtual without additional disciplinary issues.

Coker was able to get an additional interventionist for the two days after the email was sent.

But she did offer a few alternatives, including recommendations to lock down the lunchroom, close the gym and assign members staff to monitor the bathrooms.

Robinson told Coker school staff members would start escorting students to and from class. Otherwise, no additional resources were brought in to keep the students and staff safe.

Clark Academy is an alternative high school but it’s designed to cater to students with academic challenges, not necessarily disciplinary challenges.

This was not the first fight at the school last year. Earlier in the school year, an employee was assaulted and injured by a student. That employee ended up filing an official complaint against the principal, Carolyn Anderson. Among other accusations, he alleged the school was unsafe for staff.

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