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Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
Email: ssatchfield@wwltv.com | Twitter: @satchfield

NEWORLEANS - George Saucier, who lives near Sojourner Truth Academy in the Uptown area, wasn't at all surprised by the chaotic scene that unfolded outside the school Tuesday.

The school and its administrators, he said, have a serious lack of control over its students.

'There are complaints of loitering. (Students are) everywhere. They're not in school where they should be,' Saucier said. 'It's extremely frustrating. It's just the poorest excuse for public education I've ever seen.'

Tuesday morning, a brawl outside the school on Freret Street ended with a man veering his pickup truck into a crowd of students and others, striking a 15 year old girl. Police identify the driver as Paul Amar, 42, the father of one of the students.

Officials said Amar intervened in the fight and deliberately tried to hit a male student with his truck, but hit that student's sister instead.

Paramedics transported the victim, who is said to have suffered minor injuries, to a nearby hospital.

Police arrested Amar at his home Tuesday afternoon -- charging him with aggravated battery.

It's the latest in a series of problems for Sojourner Truth Academy.

The school's board of directors decided several months ago to voluntarily vacate their charter at the end of this school year, because of academic performance.

Former assistant principal Marika Barto blames, not the kids, but the environment, and said it's the very reason she left her position.

'Things went downhill very fast,' Barto said. '(Students) now have no custodians, no toilet paper in the bathrooms, no soap. Students are kind of running around the building.'

Tuesday, Anne Michaels, who serves as Vice Chair of the school's board of directors, responded to the criticisms.

'Our administrators and all of our faculty and staff here at the school -- the utmost importance to them is to keep the safety of our students and everyone here at the school,' Michaels said. 'I would definitely say there's no sort of lawlessness. We've been actually very pleased with the discipline this year and our students are doing much better with that.'

However, Barto, who still works with Sojourner Truth students on a voluntary basis, believes the school's closing is the best thing for them.

'They will change to meet the expectations of whatever anybody has for them. It just takes time and effort and, unfortunately, when the expectations are lowered, so are the behaviors,' she said.

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