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Student injured during fight involving 22 students at Harrisburg high school

Officials say students involved in the fight could face suspension or expulsion.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — School District of Harrisburg Superintendent Eric Turman issued a statement on Wednesday informing the district that one student was injured after a fight broke out involving 22 students outside the cafeteria of John Harris High School earlier in the day.

The incident occurred around noon, Turman said. 

"An incident like this is extremely upsetting and troubling for our entire school community," he said. "Acts of violence and/or inappropriate behavior simply will not be tolerated on school property." 

Turman went on to say that the district will impose "the most serious" disciplinary actions possible under the student code of conduct and discipline code and that the students involved in the fight could be suspended or expelled. 

The superintendent also said that the district met with Mayor Wanda Williams on Wednesday, as well as the Harrisburg Bureau of Police, to "establish a partnership to provide additional support" at the high school. 

The City of Harrisburg spoke more about the partnership on Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve all seen the video at this point," Matt Maisel, director of communications for the City of Harrisburg said. "It’s terrible, I think the phrase Commissioner Carter used was it’s unconscionable what happened, the magnitude of what happened the other day. That’s a call to action for us to get involved.”

City police officers will now be doing more check-ins at the John Harris campus. Additional patrols will be available to other buildings within the district upon request, as well. 

“The number one commitment for this administration, for Mayor Williams who is big on education, [is] making sure the students there have an environment that is safe and community-driven in order for them to receive quality learning," Maisel went on. 

City representatives say the district realized it wasn't equipped to handle this kind of incident. 

Harrisburg police have now offered to train school security staff to properly deal with situations like Wednesday's fight, too. 

“They go through police academies, they deal with certain levels of risk management and fight areas where security officers might not be professionally trained in," Maisel told FOX43. 

Dr. Kevin Dolphin, who runs Breaking the Chainz, a Harrisburg-based grassroots organization that works with at-risk youth, says the increase in violence among the city’s youth is disheartening.

"It’s sad that the violence continues to increase and the teachers, students, parents, [and] the community are  faced with situations, and many people don’t know how to deal with it," he said. 

He also said it will take a joint effort from the city, community groups, and the school district to make a difference.

“We first have to work with the students’ mentality because if we don’t get them to see things in a different light, they’re going to reject and oppose authoritative figures," Dr. Dolphin went on. 

In the superintendent's letter, he said the district recently hired a director of school police officers that will focus on "bridging and building relationships" between the district, law enforcement, students, families, and the "broader school community."

Turman concluded his statement by adding that the district is offering counseling and support services to students this week in response to the incident, and asked the families of students in the district for their support during this difficult time. 

City police said Thursday the injured student was home recovering.

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