At Mills University Studies High School, parents and students agree fighting is nothing new here. In fact, sheriff's deputies say they've been dispatched there tens of times already this school year.
One parent says, "I got a call that there was a riot going on. I have a nephew and a son here. I am coming to pick them up to take them home."
But what happened Friday morning was the worst school officials say it's ever been, and they believe its gang related.
Director of Education Bill Barnes says, “They knew yesterday afternoon that something was going to happen today. They were planning on having a big fight today."
That’s why a deputy was already on standby at the school, but it wasn’t enough. According to deputies, the fights started around 8:30 a.m. between several girls and then quickly spread to the back of campus. At one point, as many as 40 students were involved. Immediately the school went on lockdown.
"They feel like we have most of the immediate trouble makers out of the school right now," says Pulaski County Sheriff’s Dept. John Rehrauer.
Inside the school they were gone, but not out. An hour and a half later, chaos started again with a relative of a student. Meantime, all around campus, deputies handcuffed kids to keep them under control.
People watched it unfold from the street while dozens of parents rushed to check on their children.
"He said, mama I am so glad you came and got me. You know he's scared for his own self," says parent Stephanie Virden.
"I am upset. This is a learning environment. This shouldn't happen. This is a learning environment. I’m sorry I just need to get my children," says another parent.
Classes continued on as normal. Eight students were arrested. Three people were injured in the fighting. One was a Pulaski County Sheriff's deputy who was reportedly punched in the face by a student. Also, a student was taken to the hospital for head injuries.
No weapons were found on campus, but deputies say they are looking for a pair of brass knuckles.
Ashley Blackstone will have more on this developing story on Today's THV at 5 & 6 and on todaysthv.com.