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Trenton drafts security update after high school fights

Breaches in security that led to a brawl last week in the hallways of Trenton Central High School will be outlined for the public sometime this week, according to Superintendent Rodney Lofton.

Last Tuesday, a security guard was stabbed and seven students were taken into custody after a melee during a break in classes.

Director of Security Howard White is completing a review of the incident, which will be presented at a press conference or special board meeting, Lofton said.

After cursory searches of student bags that authorities say may have allowed girls to smuggle in box cutters, security guards have increased their vigilance.

"I would say people are being a little more careful," Lofton said.

White's report will offer an analysis of what happened Tuesday, along with additional security recommendations, the superintendent said.

Lofton said a plan that would have the city's police department overseeing security in the schools has been discussed, and he supports it.

"We've had conversations since last year with the director," Lofton said.

"I come from New York City. That's something that's done in New York City and something that I think would work."

Fights both inside and outside the walls of Trenton Central High have plagued the school over the years, while institutions such as alternative Daylight/Twilight High School have had few such incidents.

Part of the problem is controlling entrance and egress, Lofton said. Where Daylight/Twilight has three doors, Trenton High has 60. It's easier to secure a building with fewer doors, he said.

The seven students taken into custody are serving nine-day suspensions.

After they go to court on criminal summonses, they face additional discipline from the school district.

"They have to have a hearing," Lofton said. "Based on that process, a determination will be made."

Lofton said he wants to see the 16-year-old girl who pulled a box cutter from her bra and stabbed security guard Tyrone McNeese expelled, along with the 15-year-old girl who was involved in another fight moments before McNeese was stabbed.

The guard was treated and released from St. Francis Medical Center after he helped break up the fight.

"We're required to educate them, but we also have to make sure the school is safe for everybody," he said.

Contact Alex Zdan at azdan@njtimes.com or (609) 989-5705.

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on February 10, 2010 @ 8:35 PM

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