standing Westerly High School

Westerly High School. Sun file photo

WESTERLY — A member of the Westerly High School faculty is recovering from a leg injury and two students are facing charges following a lunchtime fight at the school last week.

The police said the faculty member, a woman who was not identified, left school following the incident and went to an unknown health care center following the incident. The police said she was not taken by ambulance but had found a ride on her own.

The students, boys ages 16 and 15, were each charged with disorderly conduct. The 16-year-old is also facing one count of simple assault, the police said, after a parent of the other student indicated that she wished to press charges.

Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said Monday that the incident occurred around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday as the two students, who were known to one another, had an argument that broke down into a physical confrontation.

Lacey said during the argument, the two were approached by School Resource Officer Frank Brancato, who knew that they were not friendly, and was attempting to check that everything was OK, but the boys indicated they were “just talking.” Moments later, the police said the 16-year-old attacked the 15-year-old and the two began to fight.

Brancato called for back-up and attempted to break up the fight, but was knocked to the floor. The woman who was injured then stepped in and was also knocked back, injuring her knee and suffering a minor facial injury. Other staff members joined the effort and the fight was broken up without further incident, Lacey said.

In an email last week, Westerly High School Principal Michael Hobin said he could not discuss juvenile or personnel matters but confirmed the fight. He said immediately following the incident, the schools reached out to parents and families via email to notify them of the incident.

Police confirmed that the incident occurred in the cafeteria at a time where approximately 200 students were present.

“Regrettably, we had an incident today in the cafeteria during first lunch. We take all matters of student safety seriously and the matter has been referred to the Westerly Police Department,” Hobin said in the email. “We have determined that the incident is specific between the involved students and thank the Westerly Police Department and the Westerly High School staff for their quick and swift response.”

The students were charged and released into the custody of their parents following the incident, the police said. The case has been referred to Rhode Island Family Court as a juvenile matter.

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