Pacheco High School brought in extra security this week after a woman was arrested for joining her daughter in an attack on another teenage girl on the campus, according to police.
Angelia Spafford, 35, of Los Banos, who allegedly kicked the 15-year-old victim in the head, was arrested on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon. She was also charged with resisting arrest in connection with the March 4 incident. Her 14-year-old daughter was also taken into custody.
Spafford is scheduled to appear today for a bail review hearing. She pleaded not guilty Monday in Merced County Superior Court in Los Banos. Spafford is being held at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility in lieu of $30,000 bail. Her daughter has been released to relatives, police said.
Cmdr. Jason Hedden said police were called to Pacheco High School, 200 North Ward Road, at 7:37 a.m. to break up the fight. Hedden said two female students were having an ongoing dispute. “It is unknown at this time exactly what they were fighting over,” he said.
According to police, the fight took place between the school gymnasium and the pool. The mother drove to the area in a Ford Fusion to drop her daughter off at school. Her daughter saw the 15-year-old and began arguing with her from inside the car, police said.
The girl exited the car, approached the 15-year-old and began fighting with her in front of several other students. Police said the mother stepped out of the car and joined the fight, allegedly kicking the victim in the head at least once.
The mother and daughter then drove off, police said.
The 15-year-old suffered slight bruising and swelling to the face, police said.
Spafford and her daughter were arrested at their residence on the 500 block of Cabernet Street after what police described as attempts by the pair to resist being taken into custody.
Hedden said police have beefed up patrols around the campus and the school added additional security officers.
Grace Taylor, Pacheco High’s acting principal, said she was unaware the two girls were having problems. She said she and her staff try to emphasize peaceful resolution to the school’s nearly 1,500 students.
“It is obviously a sad and unfortunate incident to happen on our campus,” Taylor said. “We are preparing them (students) for life outside of here. We want to make sure students will be responsible.”
Taylor said incoming freshmen are lectured about conflict resolution during orientation. She said she and security staff visited each classroom last year to inform students about the school’s anonymous tipline.
But many students worry about telling teachers and administrators about festering conflicts because they will be labeled a snitch, Taylor said. She hopes more students will use the tipline so confrontations can be avoided.
As late as Tuesday afternoon some parents had no idea that an adult has been charged with assaulting a student on campus last week.
“This school is usually good about telling us those kinds of things,” Hector Escobedo said as he waited to pick up his 11th-grade son after school Tuesday. “You don’t know why these things happen, if it was a boyfriend they were fighting over ... ”
Escobedo said he does not condone what the mother is accused of and thinks it would have been better for her to call police.
Iliana Contreras has a 15-year-old sister who attends Pacheco High. She said although more security has been added on campus, she’s not certain about her sibling’s safety.
“It’s scary” she said. “It’s such a big school. Something could happen before they (security) get there.”
MacArthur Washington said his son told him about the fight, but did not know all of the details. He said he does not worry too much about something similar happening to his child.