July 1, 2016

Partly cloudy

Medina High School fight rumors spark chatter, inaccuracies

A fight among students at the Medina High School cafeteria Wednesday afternoon sparked a firestorm of rumors on social media.

A post about the fight on the Medina City Schools Outrage Page on Facebook generated more than 100 comments from concerned parents and community members.

Karla Robinson

The page was created in March as a discussion forum for issues surrounding Superintendent Randy Stepp’s new contract, particularly its $83,000 signing bonus.

One person commented on the page that police used a Taser on a student. School officials and police said this was untrue.

“No one was Tased,” said Detective Mike Wesner, who is the school resource officer for Medina High School. On Wednesday, Wesner described the incident as “a small fight.”

School officials, though, said they cannot share details of what started the fight because that would violate the privacy rights of the three students involved, who all are younger than 18.

Interim Superintendent Dave Knight said he couldn’t say much more than that there was a fight among three students Wednesday afternoon in the lunchroom.

“It was handled as we handle any fight at the school,” Knight said. “Obviously when there’s a fight, we don’t condone or tolerate that at all.”

Knight said suspensions always result when there’s a fight at one of the schools, but he would not say how many students involved were suspended.

“Any time a suspension occurs at school, there’s due process rights for children and families,” Knight said. “There will be a suspension hearing if parents want to find out more, so that takes a while for that process to play out.”

Medina resident Mark Kuhar, who started the Outrage page, sent board members an email asking the school to publicize information about the incident.

Comments on the page said one of the students was standing up to someone who had been making fun of a special needs student when the fight started.

School board President Karla Robinson responded to the email, writing: “The rumors about bullying as it relates to this situation are untrue. We do not make information about student discipline issues public, due to the federal law FERPA that protects student privacy. We do not take public input on student discipline issues, as the public is not informed to the full extent of the information on the incident.”

She added, “We cannot control the social media environment. Students will send what messages they will, as will parents. But most of the information that is being disseminated is completely untrue, exaggerated, or inaccurate.”

Robinson said she preferred to not comment further, saying comments on the incident should be handled by high school Principal Bryan Farson and Knight, who both deal with day-to-day administrative issues.

“We have investigated the situation, and consequences have been dealt with,” Farson said.

He urged students and parents to report any concerns about bullying.

“In any situation, the staff is always available, and we encourage them to report anytime a situation occurs,” Farson said.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.