As Tensions Between N.O. and Houston Students Mount, 27 Arrested in Clash

HOUSTON, Twenty-seven male and female students were arrested and charged with engaging in a riot on Dec. 8 at Westbury High School. The lunchtime brawl, which involved Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans and local students from Houston, capped weeks of mounting tension between the two groups.

The brawl started between a group of local girls and a group of girls from New Orleans and then grew to involve other students in several other incidents. Dozens of Houston Police Department and Houston Independent School District (HISD) Police Department officers intervened to quell the unrest. According to HISD officials, no weapons were involved.

The on-campus fight was one of several that have recently occurred in Houston and surrounding areas since students from New Orleans began attending Texas schools in September. HISD has taken in more than 5,000 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and Westbury High has taken in approximately 300. Turf wars appear to have resulted.

In November, tension between locals and evacuees was cited as the cause of a brawl involving about 30 students at Conroe High School. Another brawl, which took place at Jones High School in September, involved 24 students.

At the Westbury High incident, 12 local students and 15 students from New Orleans were arrested and charged. Fourteen are girls and 13 are boys. Those over the age of 17 will be tried as adults.

HISD officials said the cause of the riot is still under investigation. Additional police have begun patrolling the school.

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