15 arrests made at El Cerrito schools

May 21, 2009 11:41:09 PM PDT
Student violence on campus was recorded by students themselves and without any thought of the consequences. What they documented for kicks, is now incriminating evidence.

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Two El Cerrito schools saw a shocking number of middle school and high school students arrested for different crimes, including a felony assault on a middle school teacher. Not only that, some students posted videos of their fights online.

On Thursday, there were 15 arrests throughout the day on El Cerrito campuses. A YouTube video was used to gather the evidence police needed to make six arrests at the high school related to a series of fights there over the past couple of months.

At Portola Middle School there is a police officer stationed full-time at the front of the school. Throughout the day, he was quite busy.

"One of my students was arrested," said Portola teacher Carol Renee.

The new beefed up police presence at Portola Middle School made its way into Renee's class Thursday morning.

"A policeman came to the door, a student's name was called and they took him out. We heard the click of the handcuffs and they took him away," said Renee.

Renee's student was among three additional arrests related to Monday's assault of music teacher Tiffany Carrico, bringing the total to five.

"According to a lot of witnesses, my son never touched her," said Decenthia Henderson. She says her 14-year-old son was one of those arrested. "They said he's been arrested for assault, when he's actually the one that was assaulted."

But El Cerrito police told ABC7 the teacher did nothing to instigate the attack.

In all, nine Portola students have been arrested in recent days. Besides the teacher assault, the others are charged with robbery, theft and vandalism.

One young man was taken away by police in handcuffs for a graffiti incident. The West Contra Costa County School District is now paying for a full-time police officer at Portola.

"Have they done enough until now to protect the teachers and the kids?" asked ABC7's Laura Anthony.

"Obviously, the answer is no," said Portola teacher Bob Adams.

"Have administrators at this school purposely not called the police at times?" asked Anthony.

"They have not done that, no," said West County Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Wendell Greer.

At El Cerrito High, six students have been arrested for fighting after one of them posted a fighting video on YouTube.

"Our school resource officer basically took a look at the videos and immediately knew who these kids were," said Sgt. Paul Keith with the El Cerrito Police Department.

At Portola, at least one teacher thinks having so many police around sends the wrong message.

"We're supposed to be here to work together. I'm a leadership teacher, I'm supposed to get kids to feel like they're OK and they're safe here. It is safe," said Renee.

Renee thinks El Cerrito schools need more counselors, not cops. Nonetheless, the school district will pay about $18,000 to have that police officer stationed at Portola for 10 hours a day, for the remaining 16 days of the school year. School budgets being what they are, there's no guarantee the officer will be back in the fall.

ABC7 asked YouTube about its policy for removing inappropriate videos. They said they rely on users to flag them. Once flagged, YouTube says it works quickly to remove those videos. YouTube takes in 20 hours worth of video every minute.

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