CLINTON — A Clinton Middle School student has been charged with serious assault following an incident in a school bathroom Thursday.
Clinton Police Chief Kevin Gyrion said Tuesday that police were investigating “an incident at the middle school involving two juveniles.” Later Tuesday, Gyrion said police had concluded the investigation and charged one juvenile with serious assault.
Several students were disciplined by the Clinton School District following the assault in the girls bathroom, but the victim’s mother was not satisfied with the District’s response and filed a complaint with Clinton police.
In a video of the incident, a girl pulls a blond-haired girl to the bathroom floor by her hair and punches and kicks her while calling her a derogatory name. Another girl recorded the incident with a cell phone.
Other students used the bathroom and washed their hands during the assault.
Kelli Seitz says the victim was her granddaughter.
“The students who were involved have been disciplined,” Clinton School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy said Tuesday.
The assault and the recording of it violate school policy, and the students were held responsible for their actions, DeLacy said. “That behavior is totally inappropriate. We’re very disappointed in this behavior.”
Privacy laws prevented him from revealing specific disciplinary action, DeLacy said. “They have rights to confidentiality.”
DeLacy said the district hasn’t seen many disciplinary problems this school year. “Because of COVID, it’s been a very quiet year.”
Unfortunately, middle school and high school students sometimes don’t make the best decisions, DeLacy said.
“I have a major concern that this girl is going to get exploited even more by putting [the video] out there,” DeLacy said.
A boy at another school saw a video of the assault on Snapchat and reported it to the school resource officer who shared it with SRO Shane Haskell, Seitz said. “It passed through Snapchat like crazy.”
“This was not a playground slap ... type of fight,” Seitz said. “It was a premeditated, blindsided attack. It was filmed while several girls watched and did nothing.”
Seitz said her granddaughter has scratches and bruises. The girl’s mother took her to the emergency room the day of the assault and to a follow-up visit with her family physician Tuesday, Seitz said.
Seitz isn’t happy with the school’s disciplinary action. “They dropped the ball this time. The girl should be expelled for the type of attack there was.
“My granddaughter is a very friendly person,” said Seitz. “Apparently she talked to a boy the girl liked.”
Seitz said that prior to the assault, her granddaughter had received threatening texts from the girl who attacked her. She took the texts to a school counselor who said the problem would be addressed.
Seitz said her granddaughter has been home and doesn’t want to go back to school. “I think she was in shock that someone could treat her that way,” Seitz said. The whole family has been traumatized by it, she said.
“This is not an ordinary incident here,” said first-year Middle School Principal Andy Prinsen. Last year the middle school recorded 49 incidents classified as fighting or assault. More than halfway through the 2020-2021 school year, 18 incidents have been recorded.
“So there’s obviously a drop in that,” Prinsen said. “And I think it’s a big credit to our kids and a big credit to our staff, too.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the middle school is using a hybrid model of attendance. Only half the students are in the school each day while the other half studies online.
That helps staff supervise students and lower tensions when they get high, Prinsen said. About 325 middle school students are on site each day, he said.
The district investigated Thursday’s incident fully and immediately and took appropriate disciplinary action, Prinsen said. Fighting is not allowed by the district, nor is recording fights or other inappropriate behavior, he said.
The school also stops students from sharing such videos, Prinsen said.
The middle school uses a program called Capturing Kids Hearts to teach better decision making and conflict resolution, Prinsen said.
The relationship-centered program aims to improve school culture, strengthen trust between teachers and students and create accountability, according to the Capturing Kids’ Hearts website.
“We want everyone to feel safe and be safe here,” Prinsen said.