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West Allis high school student hospitalized after fight

Feb. 29, 2012

A 16-year-old high school student has been hospitalized after being punched by another student in a West Allis Hale High School bathroom Monday, police said Wednesday.

Chuck Padgett, deputy chief with the West Allis Police Department, said police were called after the 16-year-old and a 15-year-old got into a physical altercation.

The 16-year-old suffered facial injuries from punches and was taken to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, police said. The 15-year-old was taken to the Milwaukee County Children's Court Center in Wauwatosa. Padgett said the Milwaukee County district attorney's office will be reviewing possible charges against the 15-year-old for substantial battery. Police had not recommended any charges against the 16-year-old as of Wednesday, but investigation was still ongoing.

In a letter to parents Tuesday, Principal Matthew M. Lesar said:

"At approximately 7:55 a.m., a student was confronted by another student regarding a prior situation that happened last week involving one of the students. There was some discussion in the hallway and then the two district resident students entered a bathroom on the second floor of their own volition and a physical altercation ensued. Two additional students followed into the bathroom, for the purpose of watching the fight, but did not participate. The fight was broken up within a minute by a Nathan Hale student that heard the commotion in the bathroom from the hallway."

Padgett said the fight appeared to be "some kind of an ongoing disagreement about something with different groups of friends."

"From the statements, it's not clear if it's a mutual back and forth,," Padgett said. "There were some disagreements that are mutual."

Brian Vissers, spokesman for the West Allis West Milwaukee School District, corroborated that the altercation started with a discussion in the hallway that spilled into the bathroom, where the students "started pushing each other around."

"Apparently, two (other) students went in, just to watch. Another student came in to break it up," he said.

Padgett said he wasn't sure of the extent of the injuries, but one may be a fracture to a facial bone. Vissers wouldn't comment on the student's injuries and just called them "nonlife-threatening."

He said "school consequences have been administered per school policy" but would not say whether the alleged assailant had been suspended or otherwise disciplined.

Padgett said a police school liaison is still looking into the matter to figure out whether the preliminary reports are accurate and whether there may be a video of the incident. The liaison is also trying to resolve potential conflicts involving friends or other students before they escalate to prevent any more incidents.

"She'll be working with school officials to make sure things are headed off if they may brew," Padgett said. "If anyone's injured in a school, we want to investigate it as thoroughly as we can and make sure people who are responsible are held accountable for what they've done."

The principal warned people to report "inappropriate behavior" to school administration or police and to be careful to ensure only accurate information is posted on Facebook.

"The display of information on social networking sites, such as Facebook, can have both positive and negative effects," Lesar said in his letter, adding: "There are individuals who look to promote conflict between individuals. These people should not be successful in using others for these purposes."

Padgett said the alleged assailant has not received any tickets.

Vissers said contrary to rumors, the student who was injured is not a foreign exchange student.

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