AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – A 16-year-old student is facing felony assault charges after the principal of Sweet Home High School and a teacher were injured while breaking up a fight on Monday.
Sweet Home Central Schools Superintendent Anthony Day addressed all 1,100 students in the high school Tuesday about the incident. He said Principal Joleen Reinholz is home “resting and recovering.” Day says he hopes Reinholz will be able to return to school soon.
Monday, the district said students were fighting in the 600 wing of the school and Reinholz was attempting to break up the fight when she was injured and knocked unconscious. Police tell News 4 two or three students came to the aid of the principal, who was knocked to the ground.
Sweet Home Superintendent Anthony Day said, “In the middle of the incident we did have students that recognized that she had been injured and immediately went to her and helped guide her out of the situation. That’s what we expect from our kids.”
Reinholz was taken to Erie County Medical Center and is believed to have suffered a concussion.
Amherst Police Chief John Askey said, “She was pulled in a couple different directions when trying to separate the combatants, and she was knocked to the ground. She was knocked unconscious and was hospitalized at ECMC.”
The school resource officer Greg Trotter was on the scene within a minute and a half, according to police, and did not suffer any injuries while breaking up the fight. Another teacher who helped put an end to the brawl sustained minor injuries.
Officer Trotter said, “This was an isolated incident in the school. It’s not appropriate to act this way in the school district or in the community.”
Amherst Police have charged 16-year-old Keshaun Johnson with felony assault. Tuesday morning he was arraigned in Amherst Town Court in front of Judge Geoffrey Klein. Johnson was released on his own recognizance. He will return to court for a preliminary hearing on March 20.
The charge against Johnson was considered under aggravating circumstances because he allegedly struck a school staff member during the school day. This makes the charge a felony and not a misdemeanor.
Police do not believe that Johnson was aiming for the principal. Police tell News 4 that there was another student who was going after Johnson, and that the incident stemmed from a dispute the two students were having outside of school in their Creek Woods neighborhood.
“At least one of the individuals had planned on having a fight. This wasn’t a spontaneous incident. They also had some bad blood between them,” Chief Askey said.
The incident is believed to have been captured on a school camera, one of 300 surveillance cameras in the Sweet Home Central School District.
Police say the other student involved is 17-years-old.
The district says it will take “every step available to see that those involved receive appropriate discipline.”