Tampa's Gibbs High School: Vicious fight caught on cellphone video raising major concerns
Alex Hobson, WFTS
6:51 AM, Jan 30, 2014
12:24 PM, Jan 30, 2014
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A violent fight captured on cellphone video at a Pinellas County high school is raising major concerns with some wondering if teachers have enough support in their classrooms.
"It's just very disheartening," said Pinellas County school board member Rene Flowers.
The four-minute video, taken Tuesday inside a Gibbs High School classroom, shows two female students fighting, screaming and getting egged on by their fellow classmates. At one point, the teacher tries to use her own body as a barricade.
Over the last 24 hours, the video has caused an outpouring of concern.
"I'm not going to tell you how many emails I've received today asking, well, where was the help for her," Flowers said.
But according to the school district, staff responded as quickly as they could.
"There was a campus monitor, two administrators, and another teacher that came to assist," said Pinellas County Schools spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra.
The school district says this was an "isolated incident" that is being taken very seriously.
But Flowers fears it's a big setback that ultimately will draw attention away from the positive strides Gibbs High School has been making. According to the school district, compared to last year, the number of arrests and fights are both down at Gibbs.
"They have just done so many marvelous things and unfortunately this is taking front and center," Flowers said. "I just don't want to see that become the branding for students in Pinellas County, because that's not what we're about."
Upon learning of the incident, the principal of Gibbs High School released the following recorded message to parents:
"Hello, this is Stephanie Adkinson, principal at Gibbs High School. I am calling to let you know that there was an altercation that occurred at our school recently involving a few students. A video of the incident was posted on social media. Please know that we take safety very seriously here at Gibbs High School and do not tolerate this kind of behavior. The choices of a few students do not represent the excellent student body we have here at Gibbs High School. This was an isolated event. Thank you very much for your support of Gibbs High School."
Flowers said she plans to meet with school staff to make sure any necessary changes take place to prevent this from happening again.
According to the school district, both students involved in the fight as well as the student videotaping it will face disciplinary action. While the district would not release what their specific punishments will be, Parra said it could include suspension, school reassignment, or expulsion.