Increase in fights seen at RHS

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By David Giuliani

A girl was taken to the hospital after a brawl just outside the administration building at Robertson High School last week — during a school year when the school is seeing an increase in fights, its principal said Tuesday.

The girl suffered bruises and cuts to her face in the Friday altercation with another girl, Principal Richard Lopez said. He wouldn’t say what type of discipline either girl received, only to say that there would be “consequences.”

Lopez said a secretary in the administration building reported the fight, and other employees responded to break it up. Police were called, but officials at the Police Department couldn’t be reached for comment about what type of action they took in the matter.

Lopez said the number of fights has increased at Robertson this year, but he said he couldn’t say exactly why that was the case, although he didn’t believe any of the fights so far this year were gang-related. He said 90 percent of referrals for behavioral problems involve freshmen.

On the other side of the Gallinas, West Las Vegas Superintendent Jim Abreu said he’s known of a couple of major fights that have occurred at West Las Vegas High School this year, but he hasn’t seen an upward trend.

One of the fights was during a recent career fair in the school’s gym, witnessed by Optic reporters, city police officers and military recruiters.

“It’s a pretty peaceful place,” Abreu said. “Students are pretty much in control of themselves. Every once in a while, there’s a flareup.”

Both Lopez and Abreu said that when they see visible injuries, the police are called to handle such matters.

Over the last couple of years, Robertson has suffered from a couple of high-profile incidents. In 2006, a drop-out Robertson student killed a former classmate in an alley near the school. And three youths were charged after a fight in the school, but they were later acquitted.

Lopez, who has been the principal for six years, said he believes changes need to be made to Robertson policies, suggesting they need to be stricter.

“It’s time for immediate action. We’re setting up a task force immediately,” he said. “We’ve been concerned with the number of fights we’ve been seeing.”

Robertson counselor Rick Armijo said students need to be made aware of alternatives to violence.

“We have mediation and conflict resolution,” he said.

Patricia Rodriguez, an administrative intern at Robertson, said she believes the administration handles fights on campus professionally.

She also noted that the school has autodialing to inform parents when their children are missing school and plans to install by the end of next week a computer system in which parents can log in and find out their students’ grades and attendance records. For those without computers, the school plans to make a computer lab available.

Because much of the school’s behavioral problems involve freshmen, the school aims to have what is known as a freshman academy, in which ninth-graders are kept together as a group. That will help them transition better into a high school environment, officials said.