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Security high at Nova Scotia school

Security guards and surveillance cameras were deployed at a volatile Nova Scotia high school Friday when students returned after a one-week closure ordered because of the latest in a series of racial brawls.

Cole Harbor High School was shut down Oct. 2 after two days of trouble that included fights involving teachers, students and parents. Three students and a teacher were seriously injured.Cole Harbor is one of the Nova Scotia's largest schools, serving 1,700 students from suburbs of Halifax. Students are bused in from several different areas, including a mostly white middle-class town, a mostly white working-class town and three of Nova Scotia's largest black communities.

The high school, which consists of about one-third black students, has experienced sporadic racial conflict since 1989, when a snowball thrown at a group of black students triggered a brawl that attracted nationwide attention.

Several incidents have followed, including a rampage in the school cafeteria last year by two dozen chair-throwing students. Police used pepper spray to break up the fight.

Only seniors returned to school Friday. Students in the lower grades are to return next week if the situation is calm.

At least eight security guards were at the school, and new security cameras were set up in halls. School officials altered the class schedule to eliminate free periods and end the school day sooner.

The regional school board, seeking to ease racial tensions, voted this week to hire more minority teachers and offer anti-racism courses.