Fight among Albuquerque high schoolers raises questions about teacher response

APS West Mesa High School
APS West Mesa High School (Carey Olson KRQE)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A fight captured on cell phone video between students in a West Mesa HS classroom goes on for nearly two minutes before another student, but not the substitute teacher who is present, breaks it up.

The video was shot earlier this month when two teen boys got into a brawl. Punches, curse words, desks and chairs all go flying.

Albuquerque Public Schools confirms the teacher in the video who can be heard saying, “Guys, stop!” multiple times is a substitute. The two teens don’t seem to care a bit about the sub’s verbal efforts to stop the fight. At one point, he even tells the two that they will be suspended.

The substitute never touches either student, but does get close to them.

It isn’t until a third student literally steps between them that things settle down.

An APS spokesperson would not go on camera, but said teachers in that situation are first supposed to call for help, then intervene to keep students safe.

APS would not elaborate on what ‘intervening’ entails. APS’s Employee Code of Conduct with students can be found here.

KRQE News 13 took the situation to the local teacher’s union, the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and spoke with high school teacher and Vice President Sean Thomas.

“Really, teachers are pretty limited in what they can do until security shows up. That’s why we have the paid security,” Thomas said.

Thomas says situations like the video are “precarious” for teachers, because they cannot engage students.

“Your job is to deescalate that situation as quickly as possible. But you don’t want to put yourself and your students at risk,” he said.

APS says the substitute teacher in the video is now being investigated to make sure he acted appropriately.

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