TOWAMENCIN — An online video of a fight at North Penn High School has drawn reactions from across Montgomery County and triggered an investigation by local police.
The North Penn School District and the Ambler branch of the NAACP released statements Wednesday referring to the fight, which allegedly took place Tuesday afternoon in the high school cafeteria.
"The North Penn School District is committed to ensuring a safe and equitable learning experience for all students, while developing a respect for diversity and appreciation of human differences. Any student behaviors that do not abide by these principles will not be tolerated," said the district in a statement posted Wednesday.
"We take all matters of student wellbeing seriously and have processes and programs in place to ensure a safe school environment. Any altercation taking place in our schools is investigated and individuals involved are assigned consequences in accordance with Board policies and our student code of conduct. The recent incident at North Penn High School is under an ongoing investigation. As always, we cannot comment on individual student situations," the district said.
The video, posted by "No Gun Zone Philly," appears to show an altercation in the high school cafeteria and school security staff attempting to restrain a student. Text accompanying the video claims that it shows a junior at the high school who "is black Muslim young lady who was attacked and jumped today by 2 Caucasian young lady's [sic] that have been sending her threatening messages through snap chat (stating they wanted to BEAT her up)".
The text continues: "today she was jumped and the young lady's [sic] said WE FINALLY GOT YOU NOW and then pulled her HIJAB OFF HER head once they were separated my daughter was NEVER OFFERED ANY COVERAGE ANNND SHE HAD TO WALK THROUGH A LARGE LUNCHROOM WITH NO COVERAGE TO SHIELD HER FROM ANY MALE EYES. The part that makes me sick to my stomach and broke my heart as a parent was when my baby said to me 'Mommy I really was so upset and disrespected it was like I was NAKED walking in FRONT of EVERYONE.'"
The Ambler Branch of the NAACP released a statement on the incident Wednesday, saying "we were reminded yet again how hate (which is not supposed to reside here in our community) not only does but reared its ugly head yet again. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!"
"A lot of rhetoric during this school board election cycle about promises being delivered. In particular 'Advanced equity and inclusion across the district' and 'enhanced school safety with a proactive and evidence based strategy.' Yet when a Black young muslim teenager is attacked by two white female students in the North Penn Highschool [sic] Cafeteria, her hijab pulled off, Racial and Islamophobic slurs hurled at her, along with fists and nothing happens. No arrests or statements made by the school. Immediate accountability and justice for this hate crime is the only answer."
The statement is signed by Ambler NAACP President Shaykh Anwar Muhammad, and continues:
"Silence is complicity in our fight against racism and hatred. Lines have clearly been drawn. This is RIGHT VS. WRONG. The Ambler branch of The NAACP in refusing to tolerate hate. We don't need allies in rhetoric, we need allies in action. Stand with us. 'In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends' — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
Towamencin police Chief Tim Troxel confirmed on Thursday that the incident is under investigation. He said no charges have been filed, "nor has a determination been made as to whether or not charges will be filed."
"This decision will not be made until a full, thorough and complete investigation has been conducted," he said.
Troxel added that the police department has received additional video of the incident from the school district, "who have been more than cooperative with the investigation. The video provided appears to include the full physical confrontation, and is being reviewed as part of the ongoing investigation."
"Any determination as to what, if any, crime or crimes have occurred and who will or will not be charged with a crime will be made in conjunction between the police department and the District Attorney’s office," Troxel continued.
"This is very much an ongoing investigation, which will require numerous different interviews to occur, social media posts to be reviewed, and all of the facts to be determined and verified before an informed decision on how to proceed can be made. This is to ensure that all involved parties receive equitable due process, and does not happen instantaneously," he said.
Towamencin police added in a statement posted Thursday afternoon that the fight involved three juvenile students, lasted for roughly 32 seconds — about 13 seconds longer than the Instagram video — and that school security personnel intervened and stopped the fight before police arrived.
All three juveniles told police they were not injured, while one school security officer suffered a minor injury while breaking up the fight, police said.
"While we understand the sensitive nature of the allegations made in regard to this incident and the public’s desire for a resolution, we encourage all members of the community to remain patient while we conduct the investigation," said the department.
"We are working as quickly as possible, but we also have an obligation to ensure that a complete and thorough investigation occurs. Speculation does not serve anyone’s best interest in cases such as this, and we respectfully ask that all members of the community join us in not doing so. We will not put out any information until it is confirmed as being accurate and factual, and we will continue to post updates on the investigation as it progresses."