SWEET HOME — Sweet Home administrators are changing supervision practices and working on behavior after suspending 19 junior high boys involved in a clandestine fighting organization last month.
Superintendent Tom Yahraes declined to call the situation a "fight club" but said the situation did involve numerous junior high students who were consenting to "participating in unsafe behavior towards each other."
No one was injured or in need of medical treatment following any of the altercations, and none of the fights involved any weapons or anything other than physical contact, Yahraes said. He said the contact was mostly wrestling rather than punching.
"It’s nevertheless fighting, and it’s unsafe," he said.
Yahraes said he learned of the problem when a coach contacted him on a Sunday in early February, saying he'd heard from students that other students were participating in organized fights and were recording the altercations.
Yahraes said administrators investigated immediately, holding meetings with students and parents. Nineteen boys were suspended, for various lengths of time depending on the depth of their involvement, he said.
After that, the school began working on its procedures.
"We learned there were loopholes in our supervision. These acts were taking place during school time on school property, and we quickly went back and corrected our supervision of students, redoing our supervision personnel regarding posting an additional person as well as going through and making sure areas in our buildings were secure," Yahraes said.
Yahraes said administrators also have met with students and staff on how to work on its culture. Among other things, students now get regular reminders on behavior before they go out for recess.
"We’re a junior high that wants to focus on our academic programming, our community service and a culture that is responsible, is safe and is respectful toward others," he said.
Yahraes said he didn't have much information on what apps were used to video the fights or what happened to the material.
"I do not believe it's out there, but with social media, I could be mistaken," he said.