DUNEDIN — A 17-year-old Dunedin High School student who hit two school administrators during an on-campus disturbance Thursday was so combative that a sheriff's deputy had to use a Taser to subdue her, authorities said.
The teenager, Elizabeth Santos of Clearwater, was arrested on two felony counts of battery on a school official and one count of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Three other students — another girl and two boys — were also arrested for disorderly conduct during the incident, which started around 1:20 p.m.
Tensions were high among a crowd of about 300 students who had gathered in a courtyard between the administration building and a classroom building at dismissal time, said Sgt. Jim Bordner of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
"Some type of dispute had them all stirred up," Bordner said.
The group refused to break up when asked to leave by school administrators. The resource officers called for backup and six deputies arrived within a few minutes, Bordner said.
The resource officers brought some of the students who were instigating the incident into the administration building to get them away from the crowd.
One of the officers was trying to restrain a male student when Santos "ran into the building and began attacking the principal," Bordner said. She also "struck and kicked an assistant principal," Bordner said.
"The deputy repeatedly warned her that if she did not comply he would be forced to activate the Taser," Bordner said.
Pinellas Sheriff's Office policy states that the Taser can be used when deputies encounter "active resistance," and should be considered before the use of "hands on" techniques.
Pinellas schools spokeswoman Andrea Zahn said Thursday she did not have data readily available that would show the number of times Tasers have been used on school campuses. Bordner said it was uncommon, but not unheard of.
Bordner said he did not know the nature of the dispute that started the fight. The agency withheld the names of the other three students who were arrested because they are juveniles charged with misdemeanors.
Santos was taken to the Pinellas County Juvenile Assessment Center. Calls to her home went unanswered Thursday afternoon.
Rita Farlow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4162.