ROME, Ga. — Three fights in three days at Rome High School have resulted in 16 students being arrested and charged, so far, with misdemeanors.
Rome Police said more arrests are possible as investigators look through all the videos that have been recorded by students and by the school’s security cameras.
What’s going on?
“We wish we knew,” Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett said Thursday. “We've got a lot of students that, for whatever reason this week, have decided that fighting in school and videoing it, is the right thing to do. It seems to be attention-getting, school-disrupting, or to see who can post things on social media.”
After police caught two students with loaded handguns in Rome High School at the beginning of the school year, they’ve increased security at the school.
Due to the fights, they’re assigning more police officers to Rome High School– and making sure students get the message that they’ll be arrested if they take part in any fights.
Charges against the 11 boys and five girls arrested for fighting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday include battery, obstruction, and terroristic threats.
“Right now, we are taking a zero-tolerance approach,” Burnett said, “Because if we don't, then there's going to be more violence. And somebody is going to end up getting seriously injured, which we actually do not want. But bottom line is, it is not fair to the students who are going there for the right reasons.”
Amber Dupont said her daughter and special needs son, who are among Rome High School’s 2,000 students, are scared, now, to go to school because of the relative few who are fighting.
“She’s terrified,” Dupont said, “She’s terrified. She’s like, ‘Mom, please get me out of this school.’ My special needs son, he’s terrified. They’re like, ‘Mama, just please get me out of this school.’”
“We’re getting an outcry from parents, as we should,” Burnett said. “We have started assigning extra officers... We’re trying to identify all the students that are causing the problems so that the other students can go to school and learn in a productive environment. We do not want to charge these juveniles. We don’t want them to end up starting their young adult life with something on their record. So we’re going to ask for compliance, mentor them and help them as far as we can. But the ones that just refuse to comply, we won’t have a choice but to make the criminal charges.”
The acting superintendent of the Rome school district, and the school board chair, are both not commenting on the status of the students arrested, or on what the administrators need to do to secure the school.