WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Police say they have arrested one juvenile and more arrests are coming after a fight at an Iowa high school sent a vice principal to the hospital Thursday morning.
The district says there were four students involved in the fight at Valley High School. A video of the fight made the rounds on social media.
The video shows a group of students exchanging blows and Vice Principal David Perrigo trying to pull people out of the melee. Then he appears to be struck by an elbow or another part of a student’s arm and drops to the ground. As the fight continues, Perrigo lies motionless. It looks like Perrigo is knocked out, but those details were not confirmed by the school. The school does say that the blow that knocked him down was not intentional. He was taken for the hospital for evaluation and was released that day.
Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa Teachers Association, said that due to under-funding, schools across the state are losing staff, and with that comes the loss of security.
“We're having to do more and more with less and less," Beranek said. "Whether it be a school resource officer, the appropriate number of administrators, certainly the recommended number of school counselors to students, it's incredibly important."
Beranek said school staff members do the best they can, adding that social media both helps and hurts their efforts. Social media can tip them off to problems that are brewing, but it also gives students a place away from schools to escalate disputes.
“That's why it's imperative for our families and our stakeholders in the community to also be aware ... and help inform those who need to know,” said Beranek.
But even when people are informed, issues can happen. In this instance the bad blood allegedly started with an incident outside of school and tensions grew over several days. When staff found out, they called a meeting with one of the students involved to defuse the situation. The district says after the meeting the fight started anyway. West Des Moines Schools says that Perrigo is expected to be back to work on Monday.
Police say at this point those being arrested will be charged with disorderly conduct.