Ten Fairfax High School students have been suspended from the Fairfax City school following a food-throwing melee that erupted Wednesday between a group of white and Vietnamese students in the school cafeteria.

School principal Clarence Drayer said yesterday the incident -- the first clash between any of the school's 1,500 students and its 15 Vietnamese pupils -- began after a white student teased a Vietnamese student. No fisticuffs were involved, he said.

Drayer said the suspensions were not a punitive matter. "We plan to get a dialogue going with faculty and students on the issue. The objective of the suspensions was to give time to consider the issue."

Drayer added that he had not determined how long the suspensions would last, but said that meetings with the students would begin next week.

Racial incidents involving Northern Virginia's burgeoning population of Indochinese refugees are rare according to local social service agencies "It's certainly not a widespread thing," said John Yarling, coordinator of Arlington's Catholic Charities refugee resettlement program.

"There have really been few incidents. And if it is a problem, we haven't gotten any feedback on it," agreed Fred Allen, a specialist with Fairfax County's Human Rights Commission.