Parents look for answers after brawls break out at Washington Heights school

Josh Einiger Image
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Wild fight with groups of teens outside Manhattan school
Josh Einiger reports from Washington Heights.

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- Dismissal at a school in Manhattan turned into an all-out street brawl.

Angry parents showed up looking for answers, but it didn't go the way they wanted.

Eyewitness News arrived Wednesday to find chaos and confusion outside City College Academy for the Arts.

"We have everything set up! Everyone needs to remain calm!" an administrator said.

But no one there was calm.

"The school doesn't want to give us any answers," a parent said.

"They want to separate us and we want to be together," another parent said.

"Why are people so upset?" Eyewitness News asked.

"I don't know! You ask them why they're upset," the administrator said.

They're upset after a melee was captured by cell phone cameras outside the school Monday afternoon.

Instigated, parents were told, by students at two other public high schools in the neighborhood, who for some reason allegedly targeted kids there.

Seven of them were hospitalized, one with a concussion.

Police made two arrests.

"Oh it was horrible, it was horrible. Just saw kids screaming, it was horrible," said Ralph, a parent.

"It's terrifying. This morning I had to witness a sixth grader hugging her dad she didn't want to come into the school," said Yulemny Colomeo, a parent.

"I want to know why they went inside the school. I want to know what happened. I want to know how safe my child is coming out of the school," said Evelyn Munoz, a parent.

But the answers were hard to come by. When administrators tried to split off parents into smaller groups, the parents refused.

The principal wound up standing on a table to try to address them, and if anything, the parents emerged even angrier.

"They had us like chickens without a head. From one floor to another floor to another floor just to get us tired to see if we're going to leave, but we didn't," Colomeo said. "They didn't say what the plan of safety is. What are they going to do?"