In light of about 50 students being suspended from Yazoo City High School for dress code violations, many of the violators were reported as representing gang affiliations as school leaders look for ways to curtail gang activity.
Between 50 and 55 students were given in-school suspension for wearing hooded sweatshirts to the high school. Chief Cedric Brown, district campus police chief, said he believes it was done intentionally to challenge authority and to see if punishment would really be implemented.
“It looks like before things get better, they might get just a little worse,” said Superintendent Dr. Frederick Hill, during a recent Yazoo City Municipal School District meeting. “It’s not only that they were not in compliance with the hoodies themselves, it is the colors and things that go along with that.”
Brown said more students are beginning to wear gang-affiliated colors and shirts to the high school, which is resulting in problems both on and off campus.
“We have been having a large increase of gang activity,” Brown said. “I am aware of them because I am around them, and I am trying to get some insight on the actual gang stuff that is going on. I am working to identify all the logos.”
Brown said he is currently working with the school janitorial staff to remove gang graffiti in the restrooms.
“You have a large increase of (gang activity) going on after school in the local parks,” Brown said. “The police chief and I are trying to work together to see when will be a good opportunity for us to combat the situation.”
Brown also told the city school board he would like more security at the high school, especially in the upcoming spring season when activities seem to increase.
“I have always requested that we have three officers at that site,” Brown said. “We are in the process of making adjustments to our staff that we currently have by rotating officers.”
Ike Haynes, principal of Yazoo City High School, said he personally took some students home recently because they are frightened after a “melee” occurred at Shady Lane Apartments among other students.
“A lot of our students were involved off-campus with beating another boy,” Haynes said. “There was a concern because it was a really bog melee, and it involved a lot of our students at the high school.”
Lula Starling, school board member, said more part-time security needs to be brought aboard to combat the situation.
“We can see that there definitely is a problem, and I would like for you all and our superintendent to see if we can just hire two additional part-time, because spring is coming, and when spring comes, they really get out of control,” Starling said.
Starling said that Haynes needs to find what funding can be used as soon as possible.
“See if we have funds available so that we can get some help out there to the high school, before somebody gets hurt,” Starling said. “We don't want that to happen.”