Berkeley High staffer injured, 15 students suspended, due to 500-strong student mob involving bullying, drinking

Rally Day at Berkeley High in 2012, the last one to happen after it was canceled due to what the district said was rampant drinking among students, among other things. This year, an unsanctioned rally day mob sent a staffer to the hospital with a head injury. Photo: Mark Coplan
Rally Day at Berkeley High in 2012, the last one to happen after it was canceled due to what the district said was rampant drinking among students, among other things. This year, an unsanctioned rally day mob sent a staffer to the hospital with a head injury. Photo: BUSD/Mark Coplan

A Berkeley High staffer was sent to the hospital Friday with a head injury sustained during what the school describes as a mob scene involving an estimated 500 students “participating in hazing and bullying behavior,” chanting and throwing objects, including glass bottles.

Berkeley police were called to help BHS administration and safety staff control the crowd of mostly juniors and seniors that gathered on the campus quad at around 3:45 p.m. While trying to break up the mob, two additional staff members were hit, according to Jorge Melgoza, vice principal of Berkeley High, who sent an email to the school community about the incident that was delivered on Saturday.

Fifteen students were found to be intoxicated and were suspended Friday. None were injured and no arrests were made.

Friday was the last day of Spirit Week at the school, a period when students dress in the school colors of red and gold, and celebrate the spirit of Berkeley High. Spirit Week traditionally culminated in Rally Day, the day of the homecoming football game. However Rally Day was canceled at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. The district said it was concerned about the rampant alcohol abuse and accompanying hazing and bullying behavior that had seemingly become hallmarks of the celebration.


“We are disappointed to report that students continued to engage in these behaviors at the end of the day,” Melgoza wrote in the email about Friday’s events.

Assistant BUSD Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi said an administrator was struck in the head by an “as yet unidentified object thrown by a student.” He said the administrator was taken to the hospital and released after an examination. Scuderi spoke with the administrator Friday evening after he was released, and he reported “being shaken up and not feeling great.”

“But [he] did not have extensive or serious injuries,” Scuderi said.

“The climate and culture of Berkeley High School today was not something we were proud of,” Melgoza said in the email to the community. “The immense drain on school and city resources created by the junior and senior classes clearly indicates a need for further education and coaching about community responsibility.”

The school is considering several moves as a response to the unsanctioned rally, including deducting money set aside for senior prom to pay for any property damage associated with Friday’s events.


An update from the school is expected this week.

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