Parents fight at Oak Hill’s Christmas Program (FOX-8)

DEVELOPING STORY/UPDATES BELOW…

The image “http://www.gcsnc.com/schools/elementary/oakhill/OakHill.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. It’s bad enough when the kids duke it out on the schoolyard. It’s worse when the parents do it…in front of kids…at a Christmas program!

That’s apparently what happened last night at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point. According to a story that led on FOX-8 last night, at least three adults tossed and tangled during the school’s Christmas program while children were on stage performing. And yes, there was video.

It’s pretty disturbing.

The image “http://images.myfoxwghp.com/logos/fox_8_logo.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. An excerpt from the FOX-8 story:

Children in the first through third grades had just completed about three-quarters of the program when a fight broke out among three parents in the audience, according to Guilford County Schools’ spokesman Chad Campbell.

Witnesses said the argument lasted about ten minutes.

“My daughter was on stage singing at the time when my sister-in-law realized they were arguing,” said Marseddez Lopez, who captured the argument on her camcorder. “We were gathered there to see our children perform, it’s not fair to them.”

Lopez said from what she saw, the fight involved two parents and another person she described as a school volunteer.

Unreal.

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UPDATE: 12/19/07, 9:13AM: Supt. Terry Grier sent out an e-mail this morning to media on last night’s incident. Here it is, courtesy of News & Record’s Allen Johnson’s blog:

http://aasa.files.cms-plus.com/images/SA/June2006/Beem_Grier.jpg I spoke to the principal of Oak Hill Elementary School this morning. Sara Roberts informed me that three female parent, with a history of disliking each other, attended a school Holiday program last night. During the program they began shouting obscenities at each other. The incident escalated into a chair throwing, hair pulling, fight. Two other female parent (sic) tried to break up the fight and also became involved. At the same time, a small group of male parents began shouting vulgarities and obscenities. The police was called, but many of those involved left before they arrived.

Since it was a school activity, many parents had video cameras present and taped much of the fight. Someone sent a copy of their tape to Fox 8. The police is coming to the school this morning to interview staff present. No charges have been filed to date.

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News & Record has a mid-morning story on its website…and they’re calling the incident stemming from a “neighborhood issue.”

N&R Excerpt:

Police were told that between 100 and 200 people were in the gym and that multiple parents were involved in a fight, Steele said.

Chad Campbell, a spokesman for Guilford County Schools, said Oak Hill’s PTA was holding a holiday program when three parents began fighting.

No one was injured, he said.

Campbell said the fight was the result of a “neighborhood issue.”

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UPDATE, 12/19/07, 1:56PM: Here’s an update from Principal Sara Roberts from Oak Hill Elementary School, via GCS and Allen Johnson’s N&R blog:

The image “http://www.gcsnc.com/schools/images/Sara%20Roberts.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

On the evening of December 18, 2007, Oak Hill Elementary had a Holiday Program at 6:30 pm. At approximately 7:30, an argument between parents escalated to physical violence in the middle of the gym. Chairs were thrown. Obscenities were loudly exclaimed. Three mothers did physical punch each other and two other mothers attempted to break up the fight. The fighting continued for approximately 10 minutes in total including the yelling and the physical hitting.

According to witnesses, the argument started by a father who approached another student about pushing his daughter while on stage. The one parent (not of the student who pushed) told the father to not talk to a child about that but to take it up with the principal. At that point, two other parents (twin sisters) began yelling and shouting. I had to stop the program and remind everyone to be respectful to the children on stage. However, the yelling escalated further and thus the fight began.

The police were called to help by multiple members of the audience as well as a staff member who was directed to call by me. Once the police arrived, only a few people who were actually involved were questioned. However the twin sisters had left the school property by then. The police are investigating the incident and charges are pending. We received word that a parent did tape the incident however; she did not share that with me.You may have already seen the tape attached to Fox 8 website.

I am proceeding with a ban for each of the parents who were actually participating in the fight. I have also received word this morning that one of the parents may actually live in Davidson County. My social worker is investigating that at this time.

We have also received a call this morning from one non-English speaking parent who informed us that their youngest child (not of school age) was hit with a chair in the head. She did not take the child to the doctor and the child is fine. But the accident report is being filed any way.

This is the latest update on the situation. Thanks for your help.

Sara Roberts

Principal

Oak Hill Elementary

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This one comment from “Hank” who wrote into Johnson speaks volumes of the “new normal” we suddenly find ourselves in:

Hank said:
I left the Triad 10 years ago for this very reason. You have a culture in the area that worships this type of behavior. People have to act stupid because they feel like someone disrespects them. Fighting in front of children and people appearing to encourage that behavior is a result of that mindset. Instead of trying to break up the fight, they are running to fan the flames and perhaps get a cheap-shot to impress their friends. These are parents!!This isn’t a problem resulting from too little government money. It’s a problem resulting from living in a society that encourages violence and rioting. All too often, ignorant people are all too quick to emulate the wanton behavior they hear in music and see on television. Dr Grier won’t do anything about it. It would require admitting someone was wrong and that might cause some political problems. Add this episode to the Grimsley fight and you have yet another embarassing stain on the Triad.
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UPDATE, 12/19/07, 2:41PM: It went national.
The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:QXyhaaypqv7nQM:http://www.vickicourtney.com/images/Fox_News_Channel_logo_2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. The story just hit the FOX News Channel! Click here to read their version on the FOX News Wire. News anchor Harris Faulkner just reported it and afternoon “America’s Pulse” anchor E.D. Hill just commented on it, shaking their heads at the video.
Is it me or does anyone else feel as though we’re rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the state…and now, the nation?
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UPDATE, 12/19/07, 3:27PM: News & Record reports late this afternoon that the parents involved have been banned from Oak Hill’s school campus.N&R excerpt:Oak Hill Elementary School is banning parents involved in a fight during a children’s holiday program Tuesday night from school property.According to a statement by Principal Sara Roberts, the fight began when a father approached a student about pushing his daughter while on stage. Three other parents got involved in the argument and it erupted into violence.Roberts said vulgarities and obscenities were shouted and three mothers physically punched one another during the 10-minute fight. Two other mothers attempted to break them up.

Links to blogs discussing this sad incident today:

N&R editorial board

Allen Johnson

Local blogger Dr. Sue Polinsky

Neill McNeill’s FOX-8 blog

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UPDATE: 12/20/07, 8:54AM: Link to today’s News & Record story. Tag-line: “Season’s Beatings”

Another take on the whole event, from High Point city councilman Mike Pugh, who grew up in the Oak Hill neighborhood, via today’s article:

The image “http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:NM3R1kxxJaeNzM:http://www.high-point.net/council/images/MichaelDPugh.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. City Councilman Mike Pugh, who grew up in the Oak Hill neighborhood and attended Oak Hill Elementary, said he was sad when he heard about the fight.

Pugh said he couldn’t imagine anything like that happening when he was a student there in the 1950s. The neighborhood was once a stable blue collar area, he said, but has suffered with the decline of manufacturing jobs and has been trying to revitalize in recent years.

“The city has great hopes for that area,” Pugh said. “Something like this certainly isn’t what that neighborhood is about or the people at the school. They’re good people.”

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Today’s N&R lead editorial:

“Kids Deserve Better”

It doesn’t get much worse than a fight breaking out among parents during an elementary school holiday program.

A “chair-throwing, hair-pulling fight,” Superintendent Terry Grier called it.

Viewers could see for themselves. A spectator with a video camera sent the tape to WGHP Fox 8 News, which broadcast it and posted it on its Web site. Good. The participants should be publicly humiliated.

The melee happened Tuesday evening at Oak Hill Elementary in High Point’s West End, a community where police, churches and other groups have worked hard to reduce crime, address social needs and create healthier neighborhoods.

“It’s just a shame,” said the Rev. Jim Summey, pastor of English Road Baptist Church and a leader in West End Ministries. “No wonder our children are having trouble handling their anger properly.”

“It’s not fair to the community and not fair to the children,” City Councilman Mike Pugh, who represents the area, said Wednesday. “It shouldn’t have happened. Hopefully, it’s not a setback for Oak Hill School.”

The school, located in a largely industrial area, faces challenges, including below-average test scores and a high proportion of students classified as economically disadvantaged. But discipline isn’t typically a big problem. When Pugh sees the children at locations such as the Boys and Girls Club and Kids Cafe at Ward Street United Methodist Church, they’re “very well behaved.”

The same couldn’t be said for several adults Tuesday. A loud argument among parents prompted Principal Sara Roberts to interrupt the program to ask the audience to be respectful of the children, but the dispute escalated into a fight and police had to be called. The event was ruined.

Roberts properly banned from school property the parents who instigated the violence. Otherwise, the school system, still dealing with the aftermath of last week’s student brawls at Grimsley High School, simply can’t correct parents’ behavior. At the same time, it should assign counselors to investigate whether the children of these adults also demonstrate inappropriate conduct. They may need extra attention, given the examples they have at home.

Criminal charges are appropriate but won’t likely result in severe punishment. Still, it’s important to drive home lessons about civility and proper behavior for the sake of the children, Summey said.

“The people who really were involved need to be confronted” and made to understand that their actions were “absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

“Especially in the Christmas season,” Pugh said.

“I take it to heart,” he added. “I attended that school. I go back 50 years there. … Nothing like this ever happened then.”

There’s no excuse for it now. The community, the school and especially the kids deserve much better.

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UPDATE, 12/20/07, 2:17PM:

The image “http://www.drudgereport.com/logo9.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The link to the FOX-8 video just hit the Drudge Report. Good going!

Also, FOX News Channel just had the story on America’s Pulse once again.

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UPDATE, 12/21/07, 10:53AM: It was only a matter of time before the video hit YouTube. Here it is below:

E.C. :)

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9 Responses

  1. “The police was called…”

    “The police is coming…”

    These from the superindentent of our schools? Lord, help us.

  2. no no…”Two other female parent tried…”

  3. No wonder our kids are growing up to be thugs. Look at what kind of parents are raising them.

  4. The story just hit the FOX News Channel, so now the whole world can see just how stupid some of us act here in this area. Oh joy. What an embarrassment.

  5. I believe the grammar (or lack of same) in question is NOT from Dr. Grier’s office nor is it quoted directly from Allen Johnson’s blog. We have to get EC to tell us where it’s from — or perhaps is a transcription typo. Let’s put blame where it does belong and NOT where it does not.

  6. “I believe the grammar (or lack of same) in question is NOT from Dr. Grier’s office nor is it quoted directly from Allen Johnson’s blog. “– Sue

    The copy here is identical to the email posted on Allen Johnson’s blog.

  7. One question for the principal why didn’t she call for the police when she first noticed they argument taking place of have these people removed from the school?

  8. Betty, I have a feeling we’ll be talking about this one for a while; now that it has unwanted national attention.

  9. [...] Huey is covering the Christmas brawl at Oak Hill [...]

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