BLOOMINGTON — Four Bloomington High School students are facing expulsion after fights broke out this week and sent a resource officer to the hospital.
Superintendent Barry Reilly said a total of eight students were involved in three fights on Monday, all facing a “very lengthy suspension.”
“I will recommend as many as four for expulsion for at least the balance of this year and perhaps even the next school year,” he said Wednesday. “Just because the safety of the kids and staff and other students is really important. I’m not convinced that bringing these kids back would be a safe environment for everyone.
“We have reason to believe that their presence at the school can present an ongoing threat to themselves and others, and I am simply not willing to have that.”
The first two fights each involved two students and broke out close to lunchtime Monday. At the end of the school day, the largest of the three fights began with two students but escalated to involve four in a common area near the school entrance.
“That one was a pretty disturbing fight for sure,” Reilly said. “Lots of kids around and the potential for people to get hurt.”
Scott Day, the school resource officer, was the only person hurt during the altercation. He went to a local hospital for his injuries, but by school dismissal on Wednesday, Reilly said Day was resting at home “and I expect him back at work very soon.”
Several adults and some students tried to intervene in the fight and de-escalate the situation. During the fight, BHS Athletic Director Tony Bauman was thrown to the ground, but Reilly said he was not hurt.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get it diffused quickly enough so no one would get hurt,” he said. “Fortunately the resource officer was the only individual to get hurt, because that type of event can certainly lead to others getting hurt, not just the (students) who were involved, but innocent people who were standing nearby.”
The students who staff believe initiated the third fight had previous conflicts rooting in issues outside the school, the superintendent said.
“So when their paths cross at school, the opportunities for those conflicts kind of grow. Had we been aware of that, we would have been able to take some proactive steps to try to diffuse that, meaning that we could do some conflict resolution, we could do some restorative practices with the kids,” Reilly said. “That obviously didn’t happen.”
The school administrators have worked with police and the McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office, and Reilly said criminal charges are pending against at least one student. Further details were not available Wednesday afternoon.
“The consequences for this will be extremely severe. I hope that anyone who thinks it’s OK to do this understands you will face severe consequences for your actions,” Reilly said, noting the expulsion hearings likely will begin next week in closed session school board meetings.
Spending the last year and a half without being in school consistently may have contributed to students taking longer to get "reestablished with norms, expectations and just general stamina to be in school every day for full days,” Reilly said. “I think that has definitely contributed to some challenges for some, but we’re beginning to see that leveling off.”
Photos: Normal Community defeats Bloomington 35-0 to open the season
Watch now: Bloomington has best entrance of any Central Illinois team
Watch now: NCHS linebacker Tye Niekamp talks about the Ironmen's 35-0 win over Bloomington
Watch now: BHS' Isaac Walls sacks NCHS QB Chase Mackey
Watch now: Taylor Christopher 14-yd TD run by NCHS for 14-0 lead over BHS
Watch now: Christopher Taylor 15-yd TD pass from Mackey gives NCHS a 28-0 lead
Watch now: Ryan Millmore 5th PAT kick puts NCHS ahead, 35-0
Watch now: Bloomington, Normal Community prepare for opening kickoff
Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.