Minneapolis fight video lands on YouTube

  • Article by: PATRICE RELERFORD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 16, 2009 - 9:48 PM

Minneapolis' schools struggle with disciplinary policies involving students' cell phone use at school.

Minneapolis School District officials plan to review disciplinary policies governing cell phone use and other technology after a group of middle-school students posted on YouTube a video of a fight they staged in a lavatory.

District officials said the fight took place at a K-8 Minneapolis school this fall but declined to provide the name of the school or additional details. The students were suspended from school for three to five days, as called for under the district's policies regarding fighting.

"Obviously, we can't tolerate fighting" of any kind, said Craig Vana, the Minneapolis public schools' associate superintendent for emergency and crisis management. "Kids see stuff like this [on the Internet] and think it's OK."

Recently, videos of teens engaged in group brawls have drawn thousands of viewers on social networking and video-sharing websites such as MySpace and YouTube. In many cases, the video is taken using cell phones. Six Florida girls ages 15 to 18 faced false imprisonment and battery charges last year after they videotaped and beat a 16-year-old girl until she was unconscious.

The Minneapolis School District doesn't allow cell phones in its schools, but district officials said the rule is almost impossible to enforce. Vana said the district plans to revise its disciplinary policies soon and will ask teachers, parents and students for input as it works to bring them "into the 21st century."

Vana said YouTube officials removed the Minneapolis video shortly after the district contacted them. It violated website policies that prohibit children from posting videos and that ban materials showing minors engaged in sexually suggestive or violent acts.

"Everyone is struggling with what to do with [students who have] cell phones," Vana said. "The problem is that since the technology is changing so fast, it's difficult for us to develop policies. As soon as you get it done, the technology changes again."

Patrice Relerford • 612-673-4395

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