Confluence Preparatory Academy

Nineteen students from Confluence Preparatory Academy charter high school were treated at two area hospitals Friday after security guards at the school sprayed pepper spray into a crowd to break up a fight.

The melee occurred in a hallway as students were changing classes, said Michael Serpe, spokesman for Edison Learning, the management company that operates the charter school at 310 North 15th Street in downtown St. Louis…

The children transported to hospitals have varying degrees of chemical exposure, said Bob Davidson, spokesman for Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, where 15 of the students were treated. "We'll be doing some eye irrigation. Everyone will be going home."

Four other students were transported to St. Louis Children's Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman there said.
Shanshatara Baker, 15, a Confluence student, said three security guards were spraying Mace, "like it was air freshener."…

For 15-year-old Joyce Smith, who was also treated at Cardinal Glennon, Friday was not the first time a fight at the school had sent her to the emergency room. Last spring, she said, a fight broke out in the lunch room and a table collapsed on her, dislocating her knee.

Newman said she plans to talk with her daughter about pulling her granddaughter from the school. She's concerned that the fights could escalate and compromise students' safety. And she's upset with the way the guards handled the situation. "They endangered a lot of other kids," she said…

Friday's incident marked the second time this year that security guards at an area high school have used pepper spray to break up a fight. In October, an off-duty police officer working at Riverview Gardens High School sprayed pepper spray into a crowd of students when some of them became unruly.

Confluence Preparatory Academy is one of four charter schools in the Confluence Academy system. The other campuses are elementary and middle schools…

School administrators at all four campuses are known for being strict with behavior. Students as young as kindergartners receive suspensions every week for such things as mouthing off, pushing other students and leaving the classroom without permission.

In September, students at the high school received 44 out-of-school suspensions, according to school data.

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