April 26, 2006
ByRACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Nearly half of the students who were arrested after a fightoutside Fox Middle School in March will not return to the North End school until next year.
Eight students have already been expelled for 180 school days, and two more face expulsion hearings Thursday. The expelled students will attend the city's alternative education program called HALO on Locust Street in the South End until they are allowed to return to Fox on March 9, 2007.
The punishment sends a message to students that bad behavior will not be tolerated in the school, Fox Principal Andrew Serrao said.
"Safety is a priority," Serrao said. "Prior to that event, the climate was nice. After, it brought a certain amount of fear to students."
When the rioting was over, 26 students were arrested and suspended for 10 days and the student body was so rattled that the district postponed the Connecticut Mastery Tests to give youngsters a chance to settle down. The 747-student school was put in lockdown for the day.
Serrao said that his decision on which of the 26 suspended students to recommend for expulsion was based on their disciplinary record. If the fighting was a first offense, he said, he did not recommend expulsion. If it was one of a series of offenses, he said, then he sought the most severe punishment available.
The fights, which grew out of an incident at Keney Park, spilled onto Albany and Blue Hills avenues and forced traffic on the busy roads to stop. More fighting also broke out in the school halls before the bell for first period. The fights involved boys and girls in seventh and eighth grades.
Of the eight students already expelled, only one family attended the expulsion hearing, according to school district spokesman Terry D'Italia. Two others had problems with the scheduled sessions and will have their hearings Thursday.
D'Italia said students and parents were notified of the hearings by mail and by telephone.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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