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Two Suspended Following Fight

September 18, 1985

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) _ Students returned to classes at a junior high school here today following racial tensions that erupted into fights between white and black youths and led many parents to take their children home.

About 600 of Princeton Junior High School’s 950 students stayed away from class Tuesday, said Principal Irene Pauley. But she said parents started bringing their children back to the school during the afternoon Tuesday, and the rest of the student body was present today.

Assistant Principal John Dissibbio said two youths have been suspended for nine days pending a recommendation that the county school board expel them.

″You can rest assured that they won’t get back in school,″ said assistant Mercer County school superintendent Jack Martin. He said the two had been dropouts but were granted permission to return to school last week.

Before school Monday, Ms. Pauley said, eight blacks playing basketball in the gymnasium were surrounded by about six white males who threatened to use chemical Mace on them.

Ms. Pauley said coaches and other teachers broke up the fight and the white students fled by a back entrance before police were called.

″The parents of some of the black students took their kids home until we could round up the other students to discipline them,″ she said. ″But word got out about it and the wild rumors started spreading. One child even told her mother that they (the fighting students) had chains and knives.

″It just went like wildfire around the community that something would happen. They were even talking about it at the fast food restaurants,″ she said. ″About 250 parents came and took their kids home.″

Martin said no problems were reported Tuesday, although one group of former students was asked to leave the county vocational-techincal school. Dissibbio said action against other students involved in Monday’s disturbance was pending.

″Originally, it was just a fight between two white boys Friday afternoon,″ Ms. Pauley said. ″An assistant principal walked over and they stopped, but there was a black boy standing by and he called them ‘chickens.’

″The white boys turned around and they said to him, ’I’d rather be that than a black ...‴

Ms. Pauley said that by the time of a school dance Saturday, a group of older white students had challenged several black students to a fight.

She said six parents told her they received weekend telephone calls warning them that their children would be beaten at school.

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