Students at Righetti High School in Orcutt got an early start to their Thanksgiving holiday due to concerns that have rocked the campus following disturbances that resulted in the arrest of nine students.
Social media reports indicated more trouble on the campus Friday. Those reports were inaccurate, according the administrators in the Santa Maria Join Unified School District, but leaders decided to close the school early, citing the rumors as interfering with the ability for teachers to do their jobs in the classroom.
The district released this statement:
“Throughout the day, Righetti High School has received numerous calls concerning unsubstantiated rumors that have affected the learning environment at the campus. Due to the volume of calls and the distraction that these rumors have created, we feel that the best course of action is to dismiss students early for the Thanksgiving break. Students will be released about 12:25 p.m. Parents, students and staff are being notified,” the statement said.
Students will not return to class until the Monday after Thanksgiving. On Wednesday, the campus was rocked by a series of disturbances that began with two female students fighting. When it was done, six students were arrested (another two were arrested on Thursday), the campus was locked down and then classes were dismissed early.
The incidents happened during the lunch hour when as many as one thousand students can gather in the east quad area of campus to eat.
Two separate fights broke out on campus, and as security officers and as the deputy tried to question a teen, other students became unruly.
“The deputy intervened and was attempting to detain the primary aggressor in that fight. The student resisted and struggled with the deputy, which caused them both to fall to the ground. A large crowd gathered and began yelling obscenities at the deputy and threw food, food containers and bottles at him. The deputy was struck several times by items thrown at him by the crowd. School security officers and school administrators attempted to hold the crowd back as they tried to converge on and kick the deputy,” said sheriff’s department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.
Cell phone video posted online captured part of the ongoing struggle on campus.
“A deputy contacted one of the female suspects and attempted to detain her. She resisted arrest by pulling her arm away and attempting to escape. Her friends surrounded the deputy and pushed and hit him. In the process of defending himself, he shoved the females away and one of the suspects was knocked to the ground,” Hoover said.
While six students were arrested on Wednesday, another three were charged on Thursday. All face various charges including resisting arrest resulting in injury to a deputy, battery on a peace officer, battery on another student on school grounds, assault on a school employee, possession of a knife on school grounds, possession of marijuana on school grounds, and resisting and obstructing officers in the performance of their duties.