Posted on November 5, 2010

Sides Seek to Quell Tensions Between Blacks, Hispanics at Harrisburg High School

Charles Thompson, Patriot-News (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania), November 4, 2010

The number of students arrested because of fights and related incidents at Harrisburg High School in this tension-filled week?

Two–both for bringing weapons onto school grounds. One of the boys was found with a loaded gun, ostensibly for protection.

The number of students temporarily removed from the school through suspension? At least 12, maybe as many as 15, school officials said.

And the number of students who admit wondering, and possibly fearing, what’s going to happen when they hit the John Harris campus today?

Too many to count.


Rumors in the wake of a cafeteria standoff between a black and a Puerto Rican student last Friday appear, to date, to have actually outpaced the actual number of extraordinary incidents in the school.


During the meeting, they identified a number of short-term steps they are taking to try to stop things from escalating at Harrisburg High now, including an in-building police presence throughout the day, random security screenings of students as they arrive, and the imposition of immediate suspensions on those breaking rules.


Among the ideas that seemed to get a lot of favor was an increased emphasis on formal diversity training for staff and finding a controlled forum in which students who are having issues can peacefully air their problems.


Other suggestions included the installation of permanent metal detectors, and a strictly enforced ban on bringing cell phones or other electronic communications devices to the school, to tamp down the rapid spread of rumors that, supporters said, can provoke their own set of problems.