Little Rock School Rumble: The Agony & the (Bad) Ecstasy
A quarter of a century ago they were flocking to the Antelope Valley -- Los Angeles residents, particularly those from the once safe and relaxed San Fernando Valley, who saw the High Desert as a haven of low-priced homes and good public schools. Over the years reality set in during successive waves: grinding commutes, gang crime, racial hatred, drugs and home foreclosures have given the lie to yet another corner of California paradise.
Last week, according to the Antelope Valley Press, Little Rock residents got another unneeded reminder of all this when an after-school fight broke out between 150 African American and Latino students at Pete Knight High School. The reasons remain vague -- perhaps even to the participants. One student said it wasn't racial, but based on the sale of some "bad ecstasy," while others claimed some girls, who happened to be both black and Latino, had a falling out and rumors had spread that one of them would be jumped after class.
The A.V. Press quoted the school's site supervisor, Brandy Moreno, as claiming the real culprit was lack of communication. To that end 70 residents met Monday night to discuss the situation. Several mothers who said they witnessed the rumble allege that cops did nothing to intervene, other than issuing an ambiguous warning from a patrol car's loudspeaker.
Pete Knight High has, according to Moreno, suspended 143 students over the past month, including 14 of the students involved in last week's melee. The campus' racial tensions are so high that it has been necessary to use young adults in a Violence Free Zone program to keep warring factions apart. As the Antelope Valley's economy continues to falter, there doesn't appear to be much hope on the horizon for the community's schools anywhere. The neighboring Lancaster School District has announced it is issuing layoff notices to 100 teachers.