Generic school: empty school hallway

Victoria County sheriff’s officials are conducting a criminal investigation after a potential social media threat was made toward Liberty Academy.

The threat surfaced after two fights between students occurred on the credit recovery side of the campus, Victoria school district spokeswoman Shawna Currie said. An increased law enforcement presence was on the campus because of the intentional threat.

Students involved in the disruptive incidents have been disciplined and suspended, officials said.

Friday, classes continued at the school, Currie said.

A district employee who witnessed the incidents Thursday asked not to be identified because of fear of reprisal from the district.

The employee said there was concern on campus about the threat, but the employee knew those involved in the altercations wouldn’t be on campus.

“I was concerned, but I’m going to come to school because of the students that do come,” the employee said.

Friday had low attendance because of the threat and altercations, the employee explained.

The first altercation involved two male students fighting, and one was bleeding from the face, the employee said. During the second fight, one student was attacked by three or four students in a stairwell during a passing period.

“There was a huge rush to the fight,” the employee said.

The employee said dozens of students arrived to watch the fight between classes. During the fight, the employee saw a couple of faculty members injured trying to stop the altercation.

“It was like a riot,” the employee said. “It was ridiculous.”

The employee said most fights happen during the passing period between classes and students rush to watch. Many of the fights stem from disagreements outside the school.

Liberty campus has the Academic Recovery Center, which is designed for students who have earned zero credits after their freshman year, and the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program. The two programs are in separate buildings, Currie explained. DAEP was moved to the Liberty campus for the start of the school year.

“There is no access between the two buildings,” she said.

Currie said the buildings connect, but all the connections are closed. People must enter through the front door to access either side, she said.

DAEP is a temporary disciplinary setting for disruptive students, which separates them from their home campuses. There are 60 high school students and 20 middle school students enrolled in the program. The credit recovery side of Liberty has 231 students enrolled, according to the November 2019 Administration report.

The employee clarified that DAEP and credit recovery are in the same building separated by a glass door.

Two security guards are on campus at all times and a school resource officer, the employee said, but that’s not enough.

Credit recovery has 18 faculty members to work with the 231 enrolled students. The employee said the district needs to do more because many of the issues at the campus involve gangs, drugs, gambling and vaping.

About five weeks ago, the campus eliminated the use of backpacks. The employee said that helped some of the issues, but more security measures are needed.

The employee said they have seen an uptick in the number of fights at Liberty.

Several district employees contacted The Advocate, but they didn’t want to share their information in fear of retribution from the district.

Jon Wilcox reports on courts for the Victoria Advocate. He may be reached or 361-580-6515.

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Jon covers crime, public safety and the courts at the Victoria Advocate. Born in Huntsville, Ala., he grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism at Texas State University.

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