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Police charge five students after Hempstead High melee

Police arrive at Hempstead High School after a

Police arrive at Hempstead High School after a large fight broke out, Monday. (March 8, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Police Wednesday released the names of Hempstead High School students charged in the wake of a schoolwide melee.

School officials will hold student assemblies to address Monday's fight, which closed down the 1,400-student school, Hempstead school Superintendent Patricia Watkins said.

"We need to do more in helping students to solve problems ... by not fighting," she said.

Additional police and security officers have been stationed throughout the school this week to help keep the peace, Watkins said, and it was possible the district may hire a dean specifically to address security issues.

Eight students were injured in the fight and five have been charged in connection with it, police said.

Nassau County police have charged Rasan Smalls, 18, and Jasper Parker, 17, with two counts of third-degree assault, as well as Tyshawn Brown, 18, and Dennis Wolfolk Jr., 16, with one count of third-degree assault. All four have been charged as adults and could face up to a year in jail if found guilty.

A fifth male student, under the age of 16, faces a first-degree riot charge as a juvenile delinquent and that will be dealt with in family court. Hempstead police declined to release his name because of his age.

Watkins acknowledged students had told her racial tensions fueled the fight, but said she visited the school Wednesday and that she and other school officials have not found evidence the melee was racially motivated.

In a news release issued by police Wednesday afternoon, no mention was made of a possible motive for the fight though the investigation continues and police said more charges could result.

Watkins said she and school officials will meet with parents and community members to plan how to address the issue.

"The entire staff is working to make sure we are sensitive to the different ethnic groups that are in the school," she said.

School officials will send letters to parents soon and plan to meet with them March 17, Watkins said.

The district also hopes to open a school site with alternative programs for students who "don't respond to the traditional structure of the high school," Watkins said.

She said officials have secured a location and hope to cater to students with special needs soon.

Watkins said she and other officials were thinking about the alternative programs before the latest fight because of past incidents at the school.

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