11/25/13 Incidents at LaVille Jr./Sr. High School that led to three in and/or out of school suspensions and one detention, took school administrators nearly a whole day to investigate. The incidents allegedly involved bullying, physical attacks, and social media.
According to LaVille Dean of Students, Michael Edison, the incidents were not immediately reported. The investigation involved speaking to all of the students involved as well as other students who witnessed the incidents.
The mother of a 13-year-old students discovered that her son had been physically assaulted during a class period last Monday by a female student and again in the hallway on Wednesday by another female student. The incidents were reported to both school administrators and the St. Joseph Sheriff Dept.
The first incident was recorded on a video shot by a fellow student and posted on the internet in an Instagram and on Twitter. The video shows the boy being struck several times, including blows to the side of his head, in the classroom.
The male student was seen by a physician on Friday. According to the boy’s mother, the physician indicated that there was bruising and some tender spots.
Edison and Union-North Superintendent Mitchell Mawhorter said the teacher in charge of the students was teaching in divided areas where there is a classroom space and an adjacent shop area. Edison said he was able to verify that the teacher was working with students in the shop area, but checking frequently on the students by looking through a window between the two areas.
The female student shown on the video received a five-day out-of -school suspension for “Use of Force” along with “Destruction of Property”. During the incident, she reportedly slammed a computer lid closed and broke the computer screen. The incident on Wednesday led to a two-day out-of -school suspension for “Use of Force”.
According to Edison, the male student received a two-day in-school suspension for what he termed “agonizing the situation” by verbally teasing the girl. The boy’s mother insists that the punishment is unjust and that she will not allow him to complete the suspension.
According to the boy’s mother, two other male students were involved, but the female chose to attack her son. She said, “The other boys were bigger. She hit my son because he is a smaller.” She added, “The things they say he was saying are out of character for him and he wouldn’t talk that way.”
The internet postings were not taken down until late on Friday. The mother says the postings have caused great embarrassment to her son. She also indicated that she is pursuing enrolling him in another school district.
The school corporation’s Bullying Policy does include language referring to humiliation. The first paragraph of the policy is as follows: “Bullying is defined by the act as overt, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications transmitted, physical acts committed, or any other behaviors committed by one student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, or harm another student.”
The male student posting the video was ordered to remove it from the internet and faces one after-school detention. Students are prohibited from use of a computer or cell phone in the classrooms.
Mawhorter said officers from the Sheriff Dept. did come to the school to investigate. It is not known at this time if any further action will be taken by authorities.
Mawhorter said they would use the time regularly set aside for professional development of staff to re-iterate proper reporting following any incidents.
Carol Anders Correspondent