The fire alarm sounded at Cleveland’s East High School, but the threat had nothing to do with flames. Members of a gang had pulled the alarm and were waiting outside, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They jumped students running out of the building, especially members of a rival gang. The fight between these neighborhood gangs at the end of a school day in February escalated into a riot with hundreds of students fighting in the street. One student was expelled. Another withdrew from school, and six were suspended for 10 days. A 14-year-old girl was charged with inciting violence, criminal activity on school property, and a gang-related charge.
The riot was part of an epidemic of violence in Cleveland schools. East High is one of the eight most dangerous schools in the city, found a Plain Dealer computer-assisted analysis of reports of trouble in the schools during the 2001-02 through 2004-05 school years and records from police and the Ohio Department of Education. There were 23,000 such reports. The city’s worst neighborhood for school violence has been Hough, a two-square-mile area with a mix of older, low-income and newer, upscale housing. It is home to four of the eight schools reporting the highest rates of assaults during the four complete school years studied.