Plainclothes officer to be on duty at Urbana High starting Monday


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UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.:

URBANA — Seven juveniles and one parent were arrested Monday afternoon at Urbana High School after a series of fights that sent at least one teacher to the hospital.

Urbana police Lt. Rich Surles said police and medical personnel were called to the school about 11:45 a.m. for a report of fight and a teacher who was unconscious. Over the course of their investigation, police found out that two groups of students were fighting near the cafeteria and the teacher who tried to intervene was hit and fell to the ground. Several students then accidentally fell on the teacher.

Surles said other fights broke out among students elsewhere in the school, resulting in multiple charges against the seven juveniles, including mob action and resisting or obstructing a police officer.

Police said Adrian C. Pettis, 35, of Urbana, who had to come to the school, was arrested on charges of resisting/obstructing a police officer.

While the exact number of students involved wasn't immediately known, "I can confirm that there were a lot of people," Surles said.

The severity of the situation led to Urbana police requesting backup and receiving assistance from  other law-enforcement agencies, including Champaign and University of Illinois police and Champaign County sheriff's deputies.

A motive for the fight is also currently unclear, Surles added.

All Urbana High students were dismissed at 1:25 p.m. — a decision Surles said the school consulted with his department about but made on its own.

Parents said they were upset that communication from the school didn’t immediately indicate that police had been called or give a detailed reason for the decision.

In a one-line email sent to parents at 1:06 p.m. — less than 20 minutes before all students were dismissed — Principal Deloris Brown wrote, "Due to the repeated altercations and incidents today, we will be releasing students for the remainder of the day at 1:25 p.m."

Calls and texts that were also sent to parents to inform them of the early dismissal also didn't mention why it was occurring.

"I want to give them the benefit of the doubt dealing with the safety of things at hand," said parent Dana Mancuso. "There needed to be additional information about who was affected by the incidents in order to alleviate concern."

Extra police will be on site for Tuesday's classes, according to a press release sent jointly from police and the Urbana school district.

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Original story, published 1:15 p.m.:

URBANA — Students are being dismissed early following a fight early Monday afternoon at Urbana High School.

Parents were notified that students were being let out at 1:25 p.m. Calls to the school went directly to voicemail.

Multiple police units and at least one firetruck and ambulance were dispatched to the high school early in the afternoon after reports of a fight.

A science teacher was reportedly among those injured in a fight near the lunchroom, students told News-Gazette Media.

The Urbana Police Department did not comment on the situation.

Police remain on the scene.


Lyndsay Jones is a reporter covering education at The News-Gazette. Her email is ljones@news-gazette, and you can follow her on Twitter (@__lyndsayjones).