Students now facing less severe punishment after fight club videos appear on the news
BATON ROUGE - Schools officials are reversing course on punishments for 24 students at Lee Magnet High School after faculty found videos depicting student-on-student boxing matches in a restroom.
A statement from the East Baton Rouge school system Wednesday said the students are now facing suspensions rather than the stricter discipline they may have faced had they not opted to voluntarily withdraw.
"After a thorough investigation, Lee Magnet High School will issue a suspension to the students involved in the violation of school rules. This disciplinary action is being issued in accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. As always, the safety of our students is our top priority."
Students said the secret meet-ups had been going on for some time.
"Back in late August, September, me and my friends were sitting around talking and someone said they had [boxing] gloves," student Thomas London Jr. said. "They asked if we would like them to bring the gloves and we said 'yeah' and after practice we started playfighting."
Dozens of students were involved, either participating or watching, according to some of the students.
"Twenty kids from the football team and a couple of regular students," London, Jr. said.
Some of those involved say the boxing started earlier than this fall.
"During our summer workouts," senior football player Isaiah Ross said. "Then some freshman kept it going through the school year."
They also say coaches at the school knew what was happening.
"The basketball coach, he walked in on us while we were doing it and he watched it and then he went and told the other basketball coach," London, Jr. said. "The baseball coach walked in and he saw us and then he told us to leave and then he told our football coach."
"From my understanding one coach walked in and one coach found it on social media and sent it to the rest of the coaches," Ross said.
Wednesday afternoon, the school system disputed those allegations. A spokeswoman told WBRZ as of now it appears only the two dozen students were involved and aware.
An investigation is being launched to determine who knew about the fight club and when they became found out. EBRPSS says the investigation follows standard policies and procedures.
Ross, along with most of the two dozen students involved, had initially filled out paperwork to voluntarily withdraw from Lee High, avoiding the additional disciplinary action they were facing before the system's latest decision.
Wednesday, the school system said students can continue with the withdrawal process or return to Lee High and serve a suspension.
School administrators spent much of Tuesday meeting with parents of the involved students. School system authorities met late Tuesday afternoon to discuss disciplinary action before ultimately announcing the revised disciplinary action Wednesday.
Ross and London describe the videos as horseplay and nothing more than boys being boys.
Worried parents interviewed Tuesday said they recognize that the school system has rules, but argued the original punishment was too steep.
"I don't condone what they were doing," Thomas London Sr. said. "But it was child's play and I don't think it's something their future should be affected by."
The length of the suspensions was not released. A spokeswoman said that was individual student information.