The second of two mini-summits on race relations in the wake of an altercation among students at Newport Harbor High School ended Thursday with apologies to a Latino youth who had been beaten.
Newport Mesa Principal Bob Boies said the 16 students who attended the Thursday morning meeting hosted by the Orange County Human Relations Commission left with a better understanding of each other. Several had been involved in the altercation.
"Most of the kids felt relations were pretty good, but there wasn't much mixing between the groups," Boies said. Student complaints ranged from insults hurled at Spanish-speaking teenagers to the kind of music played in school, which Latino students said makes them feel left out.
"We weren't talking about international relations," Boies said. "We were talking about things that concern high school students."
Tension surfaced in April when a Latino student was pummeled by up to 10 white students after exchanging words over a thrown Tater Tot. Newport Beach police are investigating the two-minute brawl that sent the Latino student to the hospital with two teeth knocked loose by a punch.
The Human Relations Commission investigated and labeled the attack a hate crime. Police found no evidence to back up hate crime charges, but the commission's report revealed an uneasy relationship between white and Latino students, who rarely mingle on campus.
At Thursday's meeting, school district and commission officials met with the students to discuss race relations, stereotypes and ways to overcome the problems. A similar meeting had been held shortly after the altercation.
"We got everyone talking," said Rusty Kennedy, director of the Human Relations Commission.