The fallout from Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas’ unexpected visit to the high school last week continues to reverberate throughout the city and school district as fighting has continued into this week.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas and rapper Fatboy made an appearance at the high school on Friday, Jan. 11, unbeknownst to the school, Principal Ronald Gonzalez, or Mount Vernon Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton.
During the visit - which was without notice or authorization - students got riled up and proceeded to begin fighting when the rapper reportedly “made it rain,” throwing money around, which led to the chaotic scene.
No injuries were reported, but a trophy case, doors and a window were broken amid the confusion and Thomas and the rapper had to be escorted out of the building.
Since the visit - which forced the disruption and rescheduling of midterms - officials said there have been more fights, with several students being served suspensions. According to a CBS report, there was also one arrest for a student that assaulted a security officer during the melee.
Thomas has since apologized for his role in the incident, which led to increased security at the school, with new protocols that include barring Thomas from entering any of the city’s schools without Hamilton’s authorization, unless he is visiting as a parent.
"I have extended apologies to the superintendent for any misunderstanding and assured him a valuable lesson has been learned," the mayor said on Monday. "Any mistakes made will not be repeated and all future visits of this nature will be cleared by the superintendent's office. As always, our intent is to bring value and support to our students and educational system.
"We followed the process, for some reason it didn't work this time. But look, the invitation still stands to sit down and talk with the school district,” he added. “But the bottom line is we can't hide the truth. The truth is there's bullying out there and we want to help stop it.
"I’m not going to be bullied by the school district. We went there to deal with anti-bullying and these are conditions that exist in our community, in our society overall and there are people out there like myself and Fatboy that want to make a difference.”
In his own statement, Fatboy said, ”We just want to help the youth. They are our future doctors, future mayors, and we must teach them to win. They need to know right now that they can win. They can hustle. They can work hard. They can make it! Thank you, Mount Vernon, for the love.”
Earlier this week, the Board of Education passed a resolution in response to the "unauthorized visit (that) resulted in a melee, extensive damage to school property and the disruption of midterms.”
The resolution states that Thomas, Fatboy and their entourage was "asked and directed multiple times to leave the premises, and refused to follow the directives of security personnel and the principal. Even after finally exiting the building, this group continued to interfere with classes by walking around the building causing further disruptions.
"The incident resulted in a melee and extensive damage to public school property, a full missed class period and prevented hundreds of students from completing scheduled exams. This Board of Education is charged by the citizens of Mount Vernon with protecting and ensuring the education and safety of the students, teachers and staff in our care."
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