New Orleans, La - Violence near a high school campus stirs up debate about an on campus tv documentary. Crews have been in the halls of John McDonogh Senior High for a show that describes it as "stigmatized by a culture of violence." Wednesday afternoon, somebody shot a student just a block away. That 17 year old student is in critical condition.
As for the docu-series on the school, viewers are spilt on whether it's part of the problem or the solution for a troubled school. The series is called "Blackboard Wars" and it premiered Saturday, February 16th on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The series follows the school's principal Dr. Marvin Thompson and his work with the charter organization Future is Now. It also features student struggles with things like teen pregnancy, homelessness and violence.
A latest scene with violence related to the school, has not appeared in the series. It happened Wednesday afternoon around 2:15 at the corner of North Broad and Esplanade.
"It was an altercation involving several students," said Frank Robertson with the New Orleans Police Department. "Don't know what school, but they were in school uniforms. Gunshots erupt leaving a teenager in critical condition."
School officials at the scene confirmed that the victim is a 17 year old student at John McDonogh Senior High.
"These children are my neighbors," said Sandra Ewell. She lives in the neighborhood and was on the scene in minutes. "I'm concerned about them and I'm upset about what's happening."
Ewell says she doesn't believe letting cameras into the school for a documentary is helping anything.
The Oprah Winfrey Network website is getting many comments about the new series. Viewers are split on how they feel. One poster writes, "I really feel like it puts a really bad light on the students.
Another writes, "This doc needs to be seen by every American. We have a grave problem in this country."
There were also those who praised the efforts to fight for change in a school that has a history of struggles and violence.
"This particular violence for teenagers is a systemic problem, not only here in New Orleans," said Frank Robertson with the NOPD.
But for now, New Orleans and John Mcdonogh Senior High are the ones in the national spotlight.
We have tried to contact the Oprah Winfrey Network and the Recovery School District for comment. So far, we have not received a reply from either one.