Niagara Falls High School officials address violent start to school year

Niagara Falls

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — A chaotic first week back for students at Niagara Falls High School after multiple fights broke out Thursday and threats of gun violence happened Friday.

More than 20 students are facing disciplinary action for incidents that spanned across the past two days.

Niagara Falls Superintendent Mark Laurrie says four separate fights broke out Thursday, one sending a student to the hospital for treatment. He says two of the fights stemmed from issues outside in the community, and after 18 months of not seeing each other it boiled over into school.

Overall, 21 students, all girls, are suspended and waiting for a hearing which will be scheduled next week to figure out what punishment they face. As for now, he says these students could still attend classes – just not in person.

“But if you come into this school or any of the schools and you choose to act in that manner whether you’re fighting or inciting, we will provide you with your right to a public education, a free and appropriate public education, but that right to a free and public education does not necessarily mean it will be in this building or any other buildings,” said Superintendent Laurrie.

Laurrie says Thursday’s chaos carried into Friday after several things were posted online threatening violence including a picture of a person holding a gun in what looked like the school’s bathroom. A student also told a staff member a gun was pulled on a bus.

All of those claims turned out to be false. The picture of the gun was a post from an Instagram account in Texas. And that student who alleged the story of a gun on the bus is facing disciplinary action for that lie.

Niagara Falls Peacemakers are looking for volunteers to help at schools – anyone interested can contact Ezra Scott at nfpeacemakers@gmail.com.

The Niagara Falls Administrative Team says they are taking steps to “resolve issues” at the high school on Thursday and met with staff members on Friday morning to “regroup.”

In a Facebook post Thursday night, school officials said they have expedited security measures, including random bag and locker checks, increased adult presence in the hallways with a focus on safety, and collaboration with the superintendent to utilize “necessary resources.”

Administrators also say they recognize Thursday’s incidents are also a “result of conflict that has been brewing in the community prior to the opening of school and throughout the COVID shut down.”

“We are asking for your assistance as well in keeping communication open and bringing any potential concerns to the attention of administration before they escalate. Your help is always welcome,” the school wrote.

They say they appreciate the communication and support from parents and guardians that have contacted the school. They also noted “consequences will be delivered” on the incidents.

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