Student protests at Houston school end in tumult

By Ashley Fritsch and Kristina Sgueglia , CNN

(CNN) — Police in Houston used pepper spray and a Taser to quell violent protests by high school students Wednesday after the school district cut some electives that were part of the curriculum.

Four students and a teacher were arrested as the school district combated a mob of students who stormed out of classrooms and vandalized property at the Anna High School.

Officers who intervened to stop the chaos used pepper spray, although it wasn’t immediately clear how much was used. They also used a Taser on one student.

“Four students were arrested at Anna High School this afternoon for simple assault, destruction of property and resisting arrest,” Houston Independent School District Superintendent Richard Carranza said in a written statement. “One teacher also was arrested for public intoxication after he refused to leave Anna High School, was intoxicated and refused to leave the property.”

The wild scene started just after 8 a.m. and was ongoing late Wednesday afternoon as students continued to protest.

CNN affiliate KTRK reported that cars parked at the school were smashed. Graffiti at the school read, “Teachers should walk in the halls and be killed.”

The district said it would investigate the “unruly conduct” and pass the results on to prosecutors. CNN reached out to a Houston police spokesman for more information, but the person was unable to provide information immediately.

Anna High School is among the district’s alternative schools. Its enrollment is about 1,900 students, the district said.

The school district’s statement said Thursday that “up to 250 students were walking through multiple exits as they were instructed to do by school administration.”

Video shot by a reporter at the scene and posted on CNN’s iReport app showed a chaotic scene in which many students covered their faces with bandanas.

Some students chased another teacher through the school.

The leader of the protest tweeted, “It’s a beautiful thing to do! When a school cuts programs that they know are important to our lives they have to teach us!”

‘We should know more’

It’s unclear why Anna High School decided to cut the electives, but Carranza tweeted that the school was on spring break and that school officials were going to hold a board meeting to “talk about what happened and our future.”

“We need to be a model for equity and opportunity. In today’s learning world it is crucial for all students to have all the resources they need,” he tweeted.

Students from other nearby high schools told CNN affiliate KTRK that teachers are allowed to leave the classrooms and into areas off campus if they need to get something for their classes.

Some parents told the station that their children were attacked and that classes are about to resume.

“So they’re supposed to use pepper spray in school,” parent Emanuel Maditua told KTRK. “And I tell you what, as an American parent, I’m proud to be an American. I shouldn’t have to worry about that.”

CNN affiliate KRIV reported the teachers had been drinking alcohol before attending the meeting.

CNN affiliate KPRC said there was talk among some students about starting a walkout, although the school district tweeted that students would be required to have a medical certificate to walk off campus.

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