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Lake County Schools hosts meeting to discuss fights at Leesburg High School

10 students suspended, 8 face charges, authorities say

LEESBURG, Fla. – A rash of fights at Leesburg High School prompted clergy and community members to come together to discuss solutions Thursday night.

The community meeting was held to discuss fights that led to 10 students being suspended and 8 juveniles being charged. The meeting came after the Lake County Sheriff's Office released videos of the fights that were posted on Twitter.

"This is the most parents I ever seen at a school function. Y'all act like y'all so concerned all of a sudden because it's been what 13, 16 fights? You weren't concerned when it was one fight. You weren't concerned when it was two fights," a student said.

Lake County Schools said last week, three fistfights and numerous other disturbances disrupted teaching. School officials said the investigation showed the fights originated in the community and spilled over onto campus.

But deputies say they believe there were six fights.

"We are working with the community to help resolve the issue so we can continue to provide a safe learning environment for our students," Sherri Owens with LCS told News 6 in an email. "We are also planning a survey of faculty and staff as well as some campus climate observations to help with the formulation of an action plan."

Students told News 6 lunch was cut short and student were sent to class after the fights at school last week.

Leesburg Commissioner John Christian, who also is a pastor, was expected to attend the meeting, which was open to the public.

"I think the results is get dialogue going where the school district, the high school, middle schools and our parents are coming together," said Christian. "We don't want to see fights we don't want to see our kids suspended."

Fingers were pointed at parents, students and administrators because of the violent outburst of students fighting. It was caught on video and shared on social media. The video shows students punching, clawing and screaming at each other on a day where up to six fights broke out.

"Somebody stopped raising their children," one woman said.

The fights led to at least 10 suspensions, police involvement and charges.

"Children are afraid to come to the school because they feel threatened by their lives on the campus," another concerned woman said.

The violence, they said, is indicative larger issues, including fallout from social media. One parent expressed her disgust.

"They're boasting about them, they want to see how many likes they'll get. They're not ashamed," the parent said.

They also said there is a culture that accepts misbehavior and violence, and apathy from teachers and students. Leesburg's principal, Dennis Neal, said this is all happening nationwide and not just at the local high school.

"You see violence increasing all across the nation in our schools. We're not alone in this plight," Neal said.

The meeting mostly aired out issues, but did not discuss any solutions. They said that will happen at a meeting in May.