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No 'fight club' at Englewood Middle School, district says

A social-media account with four videos of fights posted on it was deleted as of April 6

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A violent incident involving two girls at Englewood Middle School on April 5 was recorded and posted on the internet, calling attention to videos of fights housed on social media and referred to by some as a “fight club” or “Englewood Fights,” according to the school district.

After the incident, the principal of Englewood Middle was made aware of either a Snapchat or Instagram account called Englewood Fights, on which four videos of fights at Englewood Middle were posted. By April 6, that account appeared to be gone. No student was identified as being behind the account as of April 9, according to Wendy Rubin, superintendent of Englewood Schools.

“There is no fight club,” Rubin said April 9, adding that the district isn't aware of other instances of videos of fights at Englewood schools being posted online.

Ina Robertson, the mother of the victim, said her daughter was the victim of what she describes as bullying and a fight club, Fox 31 Denver KDVR reported April 6.

“The principal reached out to the mom,” and at that point, “the mom said, no, it's not that she was a victim of a fight club, but kids talk about (a) fight club,” Rubin told Colorado Community Media. “There are some kids that talk about the (social-media) account — they'd say, 'Oh, you're part of a fight club now.'"

Students aren't specifically arranging to fight, Rubin said.

The account was shut down before the district could make note of what time frame the four videos were posted in, said Julie McMorris, spokeswoman for the district. The district is working to find the individuals responsible for any such social-media pages or groups.

Englewood Schools intends to send notice to social-media outlets that host pages where videos of fights between Englewood students are posted and request the pages be taken down and banned. The district is still looking for more pages and has not found any additional ones as of around noon April 10.

“We don't deny there have been (other) incidents at the middle school,” but they're not connected, Rubin said.

In a letter to district families posted April 9 on the Englewood Schools website, Rubin further disputed the idea of a “fight club” online.

“We have not found anything that indicates students were encouraged or provoked to fight,” Rubin wrote. We “do not believe that these incidents that were posted to the site are connected. Each one was the result of an individual disagreement or conflict between students, and each incident resulted in disciplinary and/or legal action for the students.”

April Chavez, a mother whose son attends Englewood Middle School and has heard of recent fights, said the school's planned increase in security after the incident is positive.

"First I heard of (a) fight club was from an email from the school," Chavez said.

Since the beginning of March, the middle school has seen three fights. The district can’t say whether that’s typical.

It’s “three too much,” Rubin said. “It’s unacceptable, that’s for sure.”

The female student who attacked the victim was issued a summons for an assault on April 5. The dispute stemmed from an argument over words one said about the other, according to Scot Allen, spokesman for the Englewood Police Department.

A letter sent districtwide to parents the morning of April 7 said security presence at Englewood Middle School would be increased beginning April 9. That letter said videos of fights online were referred to as a "fight club," but McMorris said she believes that phrasing originated with the victim's mother who said it to Fox 31.

The district doubled the number of administration and security officials who supervise students in passing periods in hallways and during lunch, both inside and outside, McMorris said. That doesn't include school-resource officers but includes employees in security uniforms. The measures apply specifically to the middle school and will continue through the end of the school year.

The district will also be “revisiting training for our staff on how to prevent and safely mitigate potential conflicts between students,” the letter said.

“All our security personnel who have not yet received nonviolent crisis intervention training will be receiving that by the end of the week,” McMorris said April 9.

The district plans to implement more curriculum regarding bullying and cyberbullying in students’ “Pirate time” — akin to homeroom — between the week of April 16 and sometime next month.

The district is also looking to engage parents on how to be savvy on social media, possibly in a night event to educate them about the different kinds of technology, Rubin said.

The principal at Englewood Middle School held a full-school assembly the day after the incident to talk to students about bullying and cyberbullying, and communicated with parents.

District officials sat down April 9 with Englewood Middle students who had commented on social-media posts in the days after the incident. Some students were upset that their school was portrayed as having a “fight club,” Rubin said.

A few students' "bad behaviors" aren't indicative of the community, she said.

“We recognize we need to work with our middle schoolers to develop some of their skills around problem-solving (and) social-media use,” Rubin said.

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