OAKLAND -- A huge fight erupted at Castlemont High School Friday, the biggest such incident at a public school citywide in at least two years.

School district spokesman Troy Flint said Oakland School Police officers reported that about 50 students appeared to have been involved in the fight. It began in an outdoor common space behind the school auditorium at about 1:15 p.m., and was followed by several side-scuffles, he said.

Flint said the officers believed a conflict between groups of black and Latino students might have triggered or fueled the violence. "It definitely had some sort of racial element," he said.

The East Oakland school's ethnic makeup is predominately black and Latino; in 2011-12, about 48 percent of students were Latino and 44 percent were African-American. Castlemont, which for years had consisted of three small schools, merged this year into one school with roughly 700 students.

To contain the violence and chaos, Oakland police officers shut down the stretch of MacArthur Boulevard in front of the school. They reopened the street at 1:40 p.m., after about 20 minutes.

As of midafternoon, Flint said he had not received any reports of serious injuries or arrests. Most students eventually returned to class, he said, though some who said they felt physically threatened were escorted home.


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Staff Writer Harry Harris contributed to this report. Read Katy Murphy's Oakland schools blog at www.IBAbuzz.com/education. Follow her at Twitter.com/katymurphy.