Increased Police Presence At Valley High School; Principal Promises Safety

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa--Valley High School's parking lot was more open this afternoon after 25 percent of the student body decided to stay home.

“It was super empty, a class of 30-32 kids and there was only nine,” says Valley High School Junior Brandon Roman.

Students that did come say it was uneventful, except for the increased police presence.

“I was walking and there were three cop cars patrolling around and then when I walked in there are six cops just standing there. They were all there to help us and nothing happened but it was still kind of weird,” says Valley High School Sophomore Teresa Otanez Ortiz.

Three fights broke out at the school Thursday.

School officials say it all started with a social media post, which students say was racially motivated.

That promoted the school to address social media behavior Friday in class.

“Everyone from teachers to staff and administrators are all talking about and working with students regarding social media and how to use that responsibly and respectfully,” says Elaine Watkins-Miller with the West Des Moines Community School District.

Students agree social media and rumors helped fuel the fire for the fights but don't think racism is a huge problem at the school.

“We just had that unfortunate event happen with these people but that`s literally point five percent of the population at our school who think like that,” says Otanez Ortiz.

Her classmate Lindy Pingel agrees saying, “I think there are people who have their opinions but for the most part everyone is loving and welcoming.”

However, police plan to stick around until things calm down.

“We want to students to feel safe but we also want to parents to know we`re taking this seriously and we`re making sure precautions are being taken,” says West Des Moines Police Sgt. Steven Areges.

Students say if people take it easy on social media it will be a lot more relaxed at the school.

“Like my mom has always told me since I was little if you don`t have something nice to say don`t say it at all. I think if somebody would have kept their mouth shut and not said anything I don`t think anything would have happened at Valley in the first place,” says Pingel.

West Des Moines police say it will continue to look at any and all threats that are made against the school.

Police say no charges have been filed against the dozen students involved in the fights yesterday, but those are possible after the investigation is complete.

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