More than two dozen students were arrested Wednesday after a series of fights at a high school between Hurricane Katrina evacuees and local students.
One student suffered a cut under the eye. No other injuries were reported, said Houston Independent School District spokesman Terry Abbott.
Abbott said 15 students involved in the fights — which started between girls in Westbury High’s cafeteria and spread to other areas — were from New Orleans. The other 12 charged were from Houston.
One student was charged with assaulting a police officer. The other 26 faced misdemeanor charges of engaging in a riot.
“We have families who are under duress from what happened with the storm,” Abbott said, explaining those displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina have been pushed into an unfamiliar city. “It is natural that a situation like that is going to cause some tension.”
Abbott said the district has had other fights break out between students from New Orleans and Houston since more than 475,000 Louisiana residents were relocated to Texas. School officials are doing everything they can to curtail tension, he said. The school system offers counseling and student-parent forums to discuss how to improve student relations.
Nearly 2,500 students attend Westbury, including about 300 who are New Orleans transplants.
The Houston district has taken in more than 5,000 New Orleans students, more than any district outside Louisiana, he said.