New video emerges as school board meets to discuss Rich South brawl

A new video of the high school brawl in south suburban Richton Park surfaced Tuesday night, giving a fresh perspective as parents sound off at the first school board meeting held since last week's fight.
October 9, 2013 5:28:28 AM PDT
A new video of the high school brawl in south suburban Richton Park surfaced Tuesday night, giving a fresh perspective as parents sounded off at the first school board meeting held since last week's fight.

It happened when a bomb threat at Rich Central in Olympia Fields led school administrators to put 1,400 students on busses that transported them to their rival, Rich South High School. Punches were thrown and fights erupted when students from the two schools met. At least 10 students were charged for taking part in the brawl.

As the school board meeting stretched into its third hour on Tuesday night, it seemed the only thing the combative school board could agree on was the need to hire an outside investigator to look into the decisions that led up to the fight.

ABC7's Ben Bradley says, "You were here that day, describe it for me."

"Absolute chaos, chaos, confusion, fear, violence," said Monica Purchase, parent, Rich Central High School.

Kids jumping on cars, fights and injuries. It got so bad, police threw at least one student to the ground as they broke up the brawl. On Tuesday night, parents came to their school board in search of answers. Instead, they witnessed more fighting.

"That's what you all should do is learn your role!" said David Morgan, member, Rich Township School Board.

"You got to be very careful when you take your personal vendetta and do things that effect our children!" said Sheila Friday, member, Rich Township School Board.

"For you to not be present for safety meetings and then grandstand today is irresponsible and unacceptable!" said Cheryl Coleman, president, Rich Township School Board.

It seems all school board members can agree on is that this chaos was the result of an evacuation plan gone wrong. Faced with a bomb threat on the Rich Central campus last week, a school administrator ordered all 1,400 students to board buses and head for their rival, Rich South. Once they got here, someone pulled a fire alarm emptying out Rich South. That's when trouble erupted.

"My son has been very uneasy about it, he was leery about coming back," said Tracy Douglas, parent, Rich South High School.

If Tuesday night's school board meeting was meant to reassure parents, it had the opposite effect.

"They can't behave and interact with each other in a professional way. It's disturbing, what do they expect our kids to do?" said Purchase.

The school board has faced criticism because bringing the students together was actually part of a pre-arranged evacuation plan put together with the assistance of police.

"I feel like they shouldn't have brought them. They should have sent them home rather than bringing them here, knowing the circumstances and stuff. My granddaughter was terrified, she had never seen anything like that," said Sandra King, grandparent of Rich South student.

The school board president says they are already putting together a new evacuation plan, one that does not involve bringing two schools together. They're also going to recommend that an outside investigator be brought in to determine exactly what happened.


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