TANGIPAHOA PARISH, La. — Tangipahoa Parish school leaders met with parents Thursday afternoon following the arrest of more than 40 students in the district in a 24-hour span. The students were arrested and removed from three different schools due to fighting on school property.
Authorities were called to Independence High School Tuesday and Wednesday for fights, leading to the arrest of 32 students. Nine students were removed from Ponchatoula High School and seven from Loranger High School Wednesday after fights broke out at those schools. According to the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Office, no students reported injuries.
Shannon Vernon’s son attends Independence High School. Vernon says her son was not one of the students arrested for fighting, but he is serving a suspension for a separate incident involving an authority figure in the school. Vernon says the students in the school are heavily influenced by social media and celebrity musicians.
“I’m very worried it’s going to take someone getting hurt seriously for the young people and adults to wake up and say we need to do something,” said Vernon. “I don’t think they know their role when they come to school. I see a lot of them when they come here bullying each other.”
Vernon feels the problem in the parish is bigger than what school leaders should address, and parents need to play an active role.
“It’s not the administration’s job to raise our children, they’re just trying to teach,” said Vernon. “My husband and I are working hard to open our son’s eyes as far as needing the administration and working with them for his future.”
The Sheriff’s office said Thursday the acts of violence are “senseless” and detrimental to students who are trying to get an education. The department told Eyewitness News they will be working closely with the school district to determine the cause of the fights to help prevent them in the future.
“Our investigation into these two cases is ongoing, but we think that social media is feeding into this,” School District Superintendent Melissa Stilley said in a press release. “I am asking our parents and family members to sit down with their students tonight and talk about the consequences of these kinds of actions on our school campuses.”
According to the school district’s press release, students involved in the fights will face disciplinary action that could include placement at the Tangipahoa Alternative School or expulsion. In all the cases of fighting, law enforcement responded to the schools.