by Ivan Foley
Fighting among students and other members of the crowd led to the early ending of the Park Hill vs. Park Hill South football game Friday night at the Park Hill District Stadium.
Officials ended the game with nearly ten minutes remaining on the fourth quarter clock. Park Hill was ahead at the time by a score of 42-0.
Authorities said as many as seven to nine different fights had broken out among the crowd. It was reported the rowdiness began with a fight between two girls in the bathroom before it spilled out into the stadium and grew.
Officials called the game and emptied the stadium. The football teams were kept on the field until the crowd was under control.
Park Hill School District officials in a message to patrons late Friday night said “nobody involved with the fight needed medical treatment.”
Reports indicate the fighting involved not only students but some parents, as well.
Private security hired to serve the home side of the field--on this night, Park Hill South was the home team--was overwhelmed and police were called. Authorities told The Landmark that officers responded from the Kansas City Police Department, the Platte County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Major Erik Holland of the Platte County Sheriff’s department said a couple of sheriff’s officers were at the game, having been hired to handle security on the visitors side (the Park Hill side) of the field that night. When the dispute grew, those officers headed over to the Park Hill South side in an attempt to help restore order. Other officers then arrived from the sheriff’s department, KCPD and highway patrol.
Holland said none of the fighting had anything to do with a rivalry between the two high schools and the fighting was not related to the competition on the football field.
“It is my understanding that all these fights had nothing to do with the game,” Holland told The Landmark on Monday.
Holland said the sheriff’s department would be meeting with school officials to assist the school district with future security plans.
Holland explained the detailed plans and hiring of security are typically handled by the principals of the home team.
Park Hill South tends to hire fewer security team members than does Park Hill, The Landmark has learned.
On Monday afternoon, Park Hill School District Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Cowherd sent out a message to district parents and patrons:
“After we called Friday's football game to keep everyone safe, we sent out a fast communication. I would like to take a moment this afternoon to give you a little more information.
“It is disappointing that the unacceptable actions of a few students tarnished our community's experience at what should have been a positive event. The overwhelming majority of the students and parents at the Park Hill High School vs. Park Hill South High School game, including the players, handled themselves beautifully and we are very proud of their behavior,” Cowherd continued.
“Unfortunately, not everyone met our behavior expectations. I would like to be able to describe for you exactly what happened among the group of students who kept meeting to fight around our stadium, but the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act (FERPA) and the ongoing investigation prevent me from sharing that information.
“I can tell you that the rumors of a weapon involved in the fight were not true. And I can tell you that we are working with local law enforcement to investigate this fight and determine next steps to ensure something like this does not happen again,” Cowherd said.
“Keeping our schools and our school activities safe is the most important thing we do, because our students need a safe, caring environment.
“You can help us with this work if you have seen any videos of Friday's fight. Please send those videos to Dr. Josh Colvin, our director of student services, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Thank you for your support of our students and our schools,” the superintendent said in her message to patrons.