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Desert Hot Springs High School parents demand student safety after violent attacks on campus

Student safety is a major concern for parents with kids at Desert Hot Springs High School, where there has been a pattern of ongoing violence on campus.

Parents, students, teachers, police and city officials gathered at city hall Monday night for a town hall meeting to address the repeated fights on campus.

"We are in a situation where students are fearful and parents hesitate to send their kids to school," said Mayor Scott Matas.

Two incidents in the last month were captured on video and widely circulated on social media. In September, a student police said was armed with a knife was seen charging toward another student.

And last Wednesday, an all-out brawl broke out during the school day with dozens of students seen throwing punches.

Brenda Montoya spoke at the town hall meeting, saying it was her son who got jumped in last week's fight.

"He was defending himself," Montoya said. "My son has a closed eye, he's bruised everywhere, he has bumps on his head and they want to expel him."

DHSHS student Alexandra Garcia said it was her boyfriend who got attacked. "The school said there was no injuries in this fight. He did go to the hospital; he had a concussion, a footprint on his head," she said.

Police Chief Jim Henson said gang activity is a problem within the city and at the high school. "Two gangs have been giving us an issue – I will not name them," he said."

Henson made the argument that the fights at Desert Hot Springs High are no different than from other schools in the valley.

He said from August to now, police have had 117 calls for service at the high school. 102 of them were officers proactively patroling, he said.

That leaves 15 incidents this school year that prompted police responses to DHSHS.

Palm Springs Unified official Laura Meusel said the district is listening to parents' concerns. "Coming out of the pandemic, we're dealing with anger, hurt and mental health," she said.

Parents demanded their children be kept out of harm's way: "I'm giving you my kid to educate; keep her safe," one parent said.

Desert Hot Springs city council is expected to discuss the contract for its school resource officer at its meeting Tuesday night. Chief Henson said he anticipates the officer being back on campus no later than Nov. 1.

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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