Tracy High School has the dubious distinction of having the most expulsions in the 15,000-student district.
Tracy High expelled 79 students during the 2005-06 school year, compared with West High’s 51 expulsions, and almost half of all Tracy and West expulsions resulted from fights.
While high school brawls have been common for decades, what worries some people and experts is what prompts fights nowadays.
“A lot of fights are gang-related,” said Jessica Wakefield, Tracy Unified School District spokeswoman.
Also, 15 Tracy High students took some kind of weapon to school, compared with five at West, while nine West students were expelled for having illegal drugs, compared with seven at Tracy.
But the numbers could be misleading, Wakefield said, because Tracy High had at least one large fight last year involving a lot of students — possibly gang members — who were all later expelled.
Expect West’s expulsion numbers to rise next year, too, after a brawl Oct. 4 resulted in expulsion proceedings for the 15 suspected gang members involved. Fists flew between alleged Norteño and Sureño gang members on during the first lunch break at West, and the fight reportedly involved Asian, white and Latino students.
It wasn’t the only gang-related fight that day.
Across town, a Tracy High student was stabbed in the back of the head with a pen Wednesday afternoon as he sat in his chair in a classroom. The next day, an internal memorandum obtained by the Tracy Press and addressed to school staff claimed the stabbing was gang-related.
“The perpetrator accused the victim of being a ‘scrap,’” wrote Joni McGinnis, Tracy High assistant principal. Scrap is Norteño slang for a Sureño gang member.
Before the stabbing, the attacker allegedly spit on the victim, threw food at him and threatened him, McGinnis wrote.
The assailant was arrested, and the victim reportedly suffered only minor injuries, according to school authorities.
The trouble with gangs often starts before high school, Wakefield said.
Kids begin affiliating with gangs by dressing in red or blue to look cool as early as middle school, she said. But by the time they get to high school, those wannabe gangsters are the real thing, experts say.
“We should really start in the middle schools, not just the high schools,” Randy Moldrew a part-time member of Peacemakers Inc., told the Tracy Press last week.
Peacemaker groups mingle with students to find solutions to conflicts and often use former gang members to help find solutions to ongoing conflicts.
To that end, Tracy Police Lt. Wade Harper will be at West High today during lunch to talk with kids. Inviting police and others to talk to kids at lunch is something West, Tracy and others schools here do regularly, Wakefield said.
But just talking in school isn’t enough, she said.
“It’s really a societal and community issue, not just a school issue,” she said.
• To contact reporter Phil Hayworth, call 830-4221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
TUSD expulsion statistics
• 206 expulsion cases in 2005-06, compared with 197 last year.
• 27 alcohol cases in 2005-06, down from 30 in the 2004-05.
• 63 (30 percent) of expelled students were allowed to remain in school on probation.
• 10 (16 percent) paroled students violated one or more conditions of their probation and were subsequently expelled, compared with 24 percent in 2004-2005.
• Of the 78 applications for reinstatement, 69 students (88 percent) completed the conditions of their expulsion order and were allowed to return. Seven of those students reviolated.
• Source: TUSD