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How should teachers handle fights like this one at a Richmond middle school?

Posted at 7:39 PM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 21:00:42-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Cell phone video shows a fight break out between two girls inside the classroom of Martin Luther King middle school last Thursday.

According to one of the students involved, what started out as an argument between two girls escalated quickly in to a physical altercation.

Mother Niquan Pritchard admits her daughter was at fault too.

"My daughter had a little argument.  My daughter told this other student that she did not want to fight her in school. That if she wanted to fight, she would have to do it after school.  And the little girl told her that if she's going to fight her, she's going to fight her now,” said Pritchard.

In the video you can see the fight break out with other students and a teacher watching.

CBS 6 checked in with a former school superintendent to find out what teachers are supposed to do in a situation like this?

"The standard is that the teacher is in charge of the classroom. And the teacher is one ideally with proper training is prepared to deal with those issues,” said Stewart Roberson, former Hanover School Superintendent.

The Code of Virginia says that teachers and school administrators can use “reasonable and necessary force to quell a disturbance or remove a student from the scene of a disturbance which threatens physical injury.”

You can see the teacher attempt to pull the two students apart.

Former school superintendent Stewart Roberson watched the video and said teachers in situations like this one have to ask for backup. In the video, you can hear the teacher ask for the School Resource Officer.

When does a school resource officer come into play?

“Resource officers generally press into action when a crime has occurred or it's expected that a crime has occurred,” said Roberson.

CBS 6 received this statement from Richmond public schools:

During incidents of student altercations, teachers and staff are expected to contact security to respond appropriately. Teachers and staff are not required to physically break up a fight, but may do so at their own discretion in an attempt to ensure the safety of students when necessary.  At this time, we are unable to comment on any specific details of this altercation as it is a disciplinary matter of student records.

Students may be suspended from school for sufficient cause determined by school administrators in accordance with the incident. Further information regarding student suspension can be found in section 8-3.12 of the district's policy manual. School administration is working with the district's Office of Safety & Security to review the actions of all involved parties. In the meantime, administrators are happy to discuss this matter directly with the parents to address all concerns.