Neighbors said "cage fights" were not the only types altercations that happened at South Oak Cliff High School in full view of the staff.
A neighbor who did not want to be identified said she recently found a piece of broken furniture that appeared to be a club near blood and bullet shells on school grounds. She said she has witnessed large, "organized" fights before.
"They’re using cell phones," she said. "They’re coming straight down the street."
The neighbor also said students leave the school building to hang out in athletic fields where used condoms, drug wrappers and alcohol bottles accumulate during school hours.
"The system is failing the neighborhood," she said. "It’s failing the children at the school."
Former student Robert Kennedy Jr. said he saw participants of the alleged cage fights.
"One guy, he had, like, a bloody nose," he said.
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Kennedy said he was denied his diploma as retribution against his former guidance counselor, who was accused by the former principal of improperly granting Kennedy credit.
"It was all to get rid of me," said Frank Hammond, the former counselor.
Hammond said he was an informant in the grade-changing investigation that cost South Oak Cliff its 2006 state basketball championship.
"They used Robert to be able to fire me, to cover up for the basketball scandal," Hammond said.
He and Kennedy both said Kennedy had all the necessary credits.
"It’s not fair to let other people who failed, who didn’t go to class, who didn’t work as hard as I did, graduate," Kennedy said. "And I’m still here; I’m still trying to make something better out of my life."
DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander said he could not comment on the allegations by neighbors or Kennedy because headquarters was closed for spring break and officials could not be reached.
But Dahlander said Friday that the cage-fighting ended years ago. Findings were sent to the Dallas County District Attorney for review in 2008, and key employees who were involved have been replaced and disciplined, he said.
Dahlander also said a new principal has brought tremendous improvement to South Oak Cliff High School.