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Rochester, N.Y.--On Wednesday night, members of North East Main Neighbors United (NEMNU) met with Rochester School Board President Malik Evans to discuss the recent rash of fights around the area of East High School.
"I've seen kids fight like a fight club," resident Susan Jenkins said. "I've seen kids getting high, kids just not going to school, but other than that it's a great neighborhood."
Residents like Jenkins are fed up with the fights. They says the problem has gotten worse this past school year and now the fights and bad behavior are spilling into their front yards. "I came home on my lunch the other day and I had three youths, sun-bathing themselves and smoking pot in my front yard," said Bryce Miller, the co-chair of NEMNU.
At Wednesday night's meeting, Evans acknowledged the problem and said that tensions between Latino students and African- American students were causing the fights. He said there were also issues between the Spanish-speaking Latino students and non-Spanish-speaking Latino students.
Evans also pointed out that East High School has an enrollment of 2,000 students-the largest in the district. However, he said that about 150 students were actually causing the problems.
The district said it is continuing to tackle this problem and work with Rochester Police on the matter. According to Evans, the district has already called on Pathways to Peace to help mediate between the fighting groups.
"We as a district need to figure how to deal with those kids and they need an alternative high school other than East High School," Evans said.
The residents at the meeting liked the idea of placing the disruptive students in alternative schools or programs. They also wanted to see more school staff and police monitor the students as they get off the bus in the morning, because some residents said they've witnessed students get off the buses and not go into school.
"When the kids are going to school, I watch them and they leave the bus and go straight to Main Street or to McDonald's or to our street to get high," said Jenkins. "It makes sense for me to have teachers and administrators on both sides of the bus directing them into class."
Evans says the district will continue to work on this problem and said he encourages feedback and suggestions from neighbors on how to handle the issue.
"[The neighbors] make us do our jobs better," Evans said. "They bring us their concerns, but more importantly they come with solutions. They have been intergral in making this neighborhood stable and we need their involvement to face the challenges we have."