MERIDIAN, MS (WLBT) - The Meridian Public School District has fired its superintendent. Charlie Kent had held the district's top administrative job since July 2008. The district's accreditation was lowered in recent months because of problems with standardized tests. Parents also had complained about the district's response to students fighting in some schools. Like one captured on a cell phone at Meridian High School.
According to Meridian Public School Board Attorney Josh Compton Superintendent Kent's termination had nothing to do with this most recent classroom brawl. The mother of one of the students involved said she is glad to see a change in leadership and hopes it will prevent these dangerous fights on campus. She provided us with this disturbing video.
A student's cell phone captured two Meridian High School senior girls throwing punches and pulling hair. The fight lasts nearly a minute. 18 year old Bianca Brooks is the one on the ground in the blue shirt. She said the video does not show the verbal confrontation before the fight.
"I didn't start it. I was the one trying not to fight her at school, but she provoked it," said Brooks. "So I just jumped up and starting hitting back."
Students intervened and tried to separate the girls. All the while the classroom teacher stayed out of the way. "(I am) not saying that I condone the fighting because I don't, but had the teacher responded in a timely manner. I think it would not have evolved. I don't think they would have fought then," said Brooks' mother Carlotta Larkin.
Should the teacher have stepped in? According to the Mississippi Department of Education, it is up to the individual school district to decide how staff handles altercations on campus. Our calls to Meridian High School Principal Vicky Hood were not returned.
"When I talked to Miss Hood about why the teacher didn't intervene she said that was school policy and they don't have a policy in place to say jump in and break it up," said Larkin. "This could have been way worse than it was and I just felt that the school should be held liable for it."
Both students involved were suspended from school for five days. Bianca Brooks said she has also been charged with disorderly conduct. Her mother is seeking to have that charge dropped.
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