Cheltenham PA May 6 2017 Seven teachers and three safety officers were injured and four students arrested when two fights broke out at Cheltenham High School on Wednesday, the Cheltenham School District acknowledged Thursday morning.
Of the staffers hurt while trying to intervene, the most seriously injured was a long-term substitute teacher, Linda Jones, who attempted to break up a fight between four girls shortly after school started. She was taken to Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, where she was treated for a concussion, according to a teachers' union representative.
A second fight erupted in the afternoon, Susan O'Grady, a district spokeswoman, said in an email. A witness said two students got into a brawl in front of the principal’s office at the end of the school day, drawing a crowd of 60 to 70 students.
All four of the students arrested were girls, three juveniles and one adult. Amber Lewis, 18, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment, and recklessly endangering another person. She was being held at the Montgomery County prison on $10,000 bail and faces a preliminary hearing next Friday, according to court records.
The morning fight started between two girls as they were leaving homeroom for first period. Two of the girls' friends also started fighting. As students gathered and started recording the brawl, Jones tried to intervene. She was hit in the head by a girl’s elbow, then struck her head against a locker and collapsed on the floor in tears. Police were called and Jones was taken away on a stretcher.
Ray McFall, the school principal, and Superintendent Wagner Marseille quickly emailed parents alerting them to the fight without mentioning the injured staff members.
In another statement Thursday, the district said that it was adding more personnel to the school through next week, that counselors were available for students and faculty who needed emotional support, and that McFall would hold meetings to discuss the school climate.
"It goes without saying that the violence that transpired on Wednesday is intolerable and heart-wrenching," the statement said. "Such behaviors do not represent the larger student body community. The district will impose severe sanctions on abuses of our code of conduct and will actively follow through with concrete measures, like the ones listed above, to ensure a healthy school culture for all."