Police quell fight at Merry Acres

ALBANY -- A pep rally to encourage students to excel during this week's Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests turned into a large fight at Merry Acres Middle School Friday afternoon.

Dougherty County School System Police Department officers broke up the fight soon after they were called to the scene, DCSS Public Information Director R.D. Harter said.

Extra officers' assistance was needed because Merry Acres' assigned officer was off-campus for an unspecified reason, Harter said. Merry Acres Principal Ufot Inyang told Harter that he estimated about 15-17 students were involved in the actual fighting. Inyang told The Herald Monday that he anticipates the 15-17 number will decrease as an investigation into the causes of the fight continues.

"More were running around, trying to see what was happening, and some were trying to run out of the gym as it was the end of the day," Harter said.

DCSS Police Chief Troy Conley told Harter that the fight escalated quickly, but when police officers arrived the disorderly students were brought to order.

A female Merry Acres teacher, who happened to be close to where the fight broke out, was accidentally knocked down but didn't require medical attention, Harter said.

"The teacher that was knocked down, was actually trying to get to the door to keep kids from running out on campus, and a big crowd was heading that way," Harter said.

Inyang noted Monday afternoon that the teacher was "fine and OK."

"Deputy Superintendent Carlos Keith is following up on administrative disciplinary action with parents, and Dr. Inyang said arrests may be pending following the completion of a police investigation," Harter said. "Our administrative staff is working to assure student and staff safety and doing all we can to eliminate these incidents."

According to enrollment figures released by the Dougherty County School System in December, Merry Acres has 767 students.

"Fights happen everywhere and at every school," Inyang said. "This is not something we anticipated happening. We've never had anything happen like this before."