Administrators are promising "serious" discipline after a student burst into a Bryan Station High School biology class — followed by a crowd of others with cellphones — to attack a student inside and record the incident.
The school is investigating how the incident was coordinated among the students.
Biology teacher Carlos Verdecchia said the class was "just finishing up a lesson" when a student entered the room, followed by "10 or 15" others.
He said the student who entered the room "didn't say much, just mentioned the kid's name" and then attacked him.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
The other students who walked into the classroom with the instigator were video-recording the fight, Verdecchia said. "That's what blows my mind."
In a Wednesday night phone message to parents, Principal Mike Henderson said when the instigator entered the room, the student in the classroom "stood up and the two began to fight."
The student who was attacked was taken to a hospital by ambulance, but it was a precautionary measure, and the student was immediately released, Henderson said Tuesday night.
No arrests were made, he said.
"It was handled administratively," Henderson said. "It always results in a maximum suspension."
Fayette County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said Wednesday that all of the students involved — including those who shot video — are facing "serious disciplinary consequences" from the school system.
The incident started with a "verbal altercation" between two students earlier Tuesday, Deffendall said.
In the message to parents, Henderson said the student went to the class to confront a student "who had allegedly verbally harassed him earlier in the day."
The group of students gained entry to the classroom after the student knocked on the locked classroom door, Deffendall said.
A student in the class let in the youth and "as the first student entered the room, he was followed by several other students, many of whom had their cellphones with them to record the incident," according to the phone message left for parents.
Verdecchia, the teacher, said he called for help from security and got between the two students to try to stop the fight. Verdecchia said it was the first time in 15 years at the school that such an incident has happened in his classroom.
School officials are trying to determine how the students who entered the classroom to shoot video knew that a confrontation was about to take place, and how they managed to be outside the classroom door, Deffendall said. All students should have been in their own classrooms at the time.
The school is "investigating how the students knew to meet at that time and what excuses they gave their teachers to leave class early," Henderson told parents in his phone message.
Jon Akers, executive director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety in Richmond, said it was the first case he had heard of in which a group of students entered a classroom to record a confrontation between other students while class was in progress and a teacher was present.
"I have never heard of that before, and that's 44 years of experience," Akers said Wednesday. "I have never heard anything like that before, where a group of kids come in and assault a student during class time. That seems very unusual to me."
Akers is a former principal of Bryan Station.
Verdecchia said the idea that so many students would come into the classroom to watch and video the assault is "kind of shocking," but not unique to Bryan Station.
"Today's kids ... this mob mentality is becoming popular," he said. "Something needs to be done."
Henderson, the principal, described such attacks as "uncommon" and said the suspension rate at Bryan Station is down by 80 percent.
"Kids know that we don't tolerate that kind of behavior," he said.
Henderson said that such attacks, although rare, happen at all schools.
"We don't have any more situations at our school than any other school in Fayette County," he said.