Protest over Delco school’s ban on hoodies ends in fights, 10 students arrested

A section of the Academy Park High School football stadium.
(Daniella Heminghaus for WHYY)

A section of the Academy Park High School football stadium. (Daniella Heminghaus for WHYY)

This story originally appeared on 6abc

An investigation continues into a series of fights that broke out at Delaware County school following a peaceful protest.

Students at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill were demonstrating against a new dress code policy around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday but things spiraled out of control.

At least 10 students were arrested, with more arrests expected in the coming days.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The 10 arrested so far are facing charges ranging from aggravated assault to causing or risking catastrophe.

The fights, inside and outside the school, led to an all-county police assist at the school.

“It was just too much. It was too many people in one area. There were like 600 people in one area,” said Tobias, an 11th-grade student.

“I was frantic,” said parent Armenda Pettey. “I’m at work at my desk working and my daughters are calling me and they’re telling me, ‘Mom, get up here.’ And they’re scared to death.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The fights occurred after a peaceful student protest inside the auditorium. Students were protesting the Southeast DelCo School District’s decision to ban hooded sweatshirts and hats.

“The schools said we can’t wear the hoodies, but us kids don’t like that because we like to wear our hoodies and stuff,” said student Randy Baker.

“We felt like it was unfair and it was too quick,” said Tobias.

The school board made the decision during their Oct. 27 meeting.

“If I’m wearing my hoodie, I can hide my face if I’m doing something devious, if I’m choosing poor choices instead of being a scholar in the building,” said a school board representative during the meeting.

The policy went into effect on Monday.

After the student protest, Sharon Hill police said students started damaging property inside the school and fights broke out.

“I feel like I wish it could have stayed peaceful so we could really get our message across because now I feel like since they started fighting, they’re not going to try and listen to us,” said Tobias. “They’re going to think we’re not serious or whatever.”

The Southeast Delco School District released the following statement on Wednesday:

“Yesterday, students at Academy Park High School engaged in a walkout and demonstration over a new board expectation restricting the use of hats and hoodies in all district buildings.

“After the assembly of students adjourned, some students engaged in physical disruption, which necessitated a lockdown and police response.

“Students were dismissed early from school and the campus was cleared. School officials are working with local authorities to identify those parties involved and appropriate consequences will be issued per our district code of student conduct.”

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal