MARRERO, La. — Cellphone videos obtained by WWL-TV and shared on social media show a troubling trend at John Ehret High School.
Students claim there have been more than a dozen fights on the Marrero campus since the new semester started a month ago.
One 15-year-old freshman talked about being the target of a vicious attack at Ehret last Tuesday.
The incident was caught on camera.
"I was knocked unconscious and had a lip laceration which needed three stitches and I was given a CAT scan, which the results came back as a mild concussion," the student said.
The student said he was sucker-punched by a classmate who mistakenly thought he reported the teen for smoking marijuana in the bathroom.
"Whenever he hit me, he appeared to have something in his hand," the student said. "He came up from behind and he snuck me."
The student's mother, Kathy Schultz, called John Ehret a hostile and unsafe environment.
"There are several fights every day, several a day, not just a one time incident or isolated incident," Schultz said. "Your children are not safe at John Ehret."
Jefferson School District officials don't deny there's a problem at the high school.
"School yard fights are unfortunately a part of school, but we have seen more than normal at Ehret over the past week or so," JP Schools spokesman Ted Beasley said. "I think it's import that this is a small percentage of kids who are doing this, relative to how large that campus is."
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Ehret is the largest high school in Jefferson Parish with more than 2,000 students.
Just last Friday, Ehret Principal Wesley Taylor went to the hospital with a back injury after attempting to break up a fight.
Schultz said if the school can't even protect the principal, students are certainly at risk.
"I want the Jefferson Parish School Board to take responsibility for the violence that is out of control at this school and to do something about it," Schultz said.
The Jefferson Federation of Teachers is also demanding action from the school district.
JFT Executive Vice President Kesler Camese Jones said teachers at Ehret are very concerned with the level of violence.
"They're afraid," Jones said. "They want something done. There is no clear policy in Jefferson Parish about what they are to do in those instances. So, if I intervene, I may get injured. If I intervene, I may also get disciplined."
Thirteen students were arrested at Ehret after fights broke out across campus on the last day of school before the summer break.
Teachers worry the problem may have gotten worse since last semester.
"It's escalated," Jones said. "If the principal is obviously injured that's clear it has now really grown into something that we've got to do something different than what we've been doing."
Additional administrators and support personnel were sent to the high school to assist the staff and faculty and to help tap down the violence.
"You have kids who have issues in the community with each other and then they're coming to school and fighting," Beasley said. "They're not random fights. They're not fights that are breaking out on campus out of nowhere."
The teacher's union now plans to meet with school leaders to discuss the uptick in violence at Ehret.
"We don't know why it's happening," Jones said. "I think if you get to the root cause of why the students are feeling the need to fight, I think maybe we can then start coming up with some solutions."
In the meantime, the student attacked on video last week said he won't be returning to Ehret.
"Kids were saying I shouldn't even come back to school because I got 'knocked the F out' and that it was going to happen again," he said.
Wednesday, the school sent an email to Ehret parents stating:
"Creating a safe and positive school environment for your child is our top responsibility. The majority of our students come to school ready to learn, to have fun, and ready to become an active member of the Patriot family. However, ongoing issues in the community and the constant and negative use of social media continues to escalate issues on campus. Though they are in the minority, there are some students who have made the decision to disrupt education and shed a bad light on our school, and we cannot allow this to continue.
John Ehret has a long standing reputation of high academic standards, involved students, and proud parents. The Ehret admin team, teachers, support staff, alumni, and community members pledge to address and remove the negative parties that refuse to accept our assistance in helping them change their behaviors. Soon we will conduct grade-level meetings where we will outline our expectations, list interventions for students having trouble, and state the consequences for not following rules."