Westbury High Tension Explodes Into a Brawl

Mónica Guzmán, Houston Chronicle, Dec. 8, 2005

A brawl that began in the Westbury High School cafeteria Wednesday and spilled outdoors capped weeks of growing tension between Houston students and Hurricane Katrina evacuees and resulted in the arrest of 27 students.

The fight was one of about a dozen such on-campus clashes that have roiled Houston and surrounding areas since thousands of students from New Orleans began attending local schools in September.

In response, Westbury students can expect more police at the school beginning today, a school district spokesman said.

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The mother of a 14-year-old freshman at Westbury said things have changed at the school.

“After Katrina, I hate to say it, but it’s been chaos,” she said. “It’s really sad. It’s truly sad.”

Some Houston students said the once-open social atmosphere at the school has become charged with new tensions since New Orleans students joined their classes.

“The first two years I was here, we hung together, everyone knew each other,” said a 17-year-old junior. “They just don’t like people from Houston . . . There’s been a whole bunch of fights,” he said.

Some New Orleans students said they represent a clear minority in the school and are being unfairly targeted.

“Altercations have been happening, but it never got down to this,” said an 18-year-old.

Graffiti scrawled on the door of a girls restroom seems to mark the built-up tensions.

On the door’s center, “New Orleans Takin’ Over,” is crossed out. Nearby, “H-town forever!” is scrawled. The phrase “Go home” is answered with a crude “no.” Profanities litter the door.

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The brawl is the latest in a series of fights at Houston-area high schools between local students and newcomers from Louisiana.

In September, a fight that started with a Jones High School student tossing a soda can at Katrina students involved two dozen teens.

Five were arrested; three were hospitalized.

Last month, Conroe High School students cited tension between locals and evacuees as the cause of a brawl involving about 30 students.

“We’ve definitely had a number of incidents, probably a dozen or so significant incidents,” Abbott said. “But the vast majority of kids have gotten along well.”

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