Sussex County schools, police investigating possible student brawl

Conflict began over social media posts, police say

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Local police are investigating the possibility of a brawl involving students from several Sussex County high schools — including Sparta and High Point — potentially planned for sometime this weekend.

Police and schools were made aware of the situation after social media posts suggested a conflict among students may move from cyberspace to a violent altercation at an agreed meeting site.

Police departments, including Hardyston Township police, are aware of the situation, according to Hardyston police Lt. Rob Zicarelli.

“We have no real facts to believe that there is going to be violence that takes place,” Zicarelli said Friday afternoon, “however, we are taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our youth and the safety of those areas of the town. And if we do see something that’s unusual or needs our attention and needs further investigation, obviously we will jump on that to ensure the safety of the public.

“It’s a tough one,” Zicarelli continued. “These are high school kids and social media, so sometimes things take off but by no means are we dismissing it as a ‘kids being kids’ thing. We will take it seriously. We are going to assign the resources necessary to make sure that the community is safe, and we’ll go from there.”

A message posted on the High Point Regional High School website Friday morning states that school administration have been working on an investigation involving a potential conflict involving a small number of High Point students and students from several local high schools since the situation was brought to their attention Thursday.

"The conflict which involved several students arose over social media posts and quickly spread through a number of school districts,” the statement continues. “Due to the nature of the posts and the potential for the conflict to go beyond social media, school administrators from all affected schools were made aware of the issue, and the incident was investigated.

“Local police for all schools were also notified of the situation out of an abundance of caution. The administration is actively working with the specific students involved and their families. While the investigation does not indicate any cause for alarm, High Point Regional High School will continue to display vigilance at all school and after-school activities to ensure the safety of the school community and visitors."

The school also released a statement regarding Homecoming weekend, which includes an in-school pep rally on Friday and a homecoming football game and dance Saturday.

“Homecoming has always will always be a celebration of our HP family past and present,” the statement reads. “Our students, staff, and administration have worked very hard and are very excited for this wonderful event.”

Sparta High School also released a statement regarding the situation, stating that the high school has been working with Sparta police. Students and parents of those believed to be directly involved were contacted and informed of the situation on Thursday afternoon.

“We would like to alert all parents to be aware of their children's activities, and discuss the dangers of being involved, as well as the danger of using social media to threaten others with violence,” the statement continues. “Please contact Sparta High School and / or Sparta PD should you have any information.”

This is an ongoing story and will be updated as new information is made available.
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