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Three juveniles charged in Friday fight on school bus

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

A fight on a Carroll County school bus – a video of which has gone viral online – has resulted in charges of fourth-degree assault with minor injury against two 13-year-old girls, according to Carrollton Police Chief Mike Willhoite.

Willhoite said Carroll County Dispatch received a call at 3:20 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, from district Transportation Director Nadena Mahoney about the incident, in which the two girls allegedly assaulted another 13-year-old girl on the bus.

Carrollton Police Sgt. Tim Mitchell and Officer Ron Dickow responded to the call and met the bus, which had been brought to a stop by the driver in the 500 block of Clay Street. The officers investigated and confirmed that the two girls assaulted the other girl, and that other children on the bus intervened to stop the assault, Willhoite said.

Another 13-year-old girl was charged with complicity to fourth-degree assault for videotaping the entire incident with a cell phone, later posting it on Facebook.

The video, however, along with the officers’ investigation, proved “that it was a pre-meditated attack on the victim,” Willhoite said, adding that the investigation revealed that the incident ignited because of a boy.

The three students charged in the attack attend the Carroll County Alternative School; the victim is a student at Carroll County Middle School, Willhoite said.

“Assaults on school buses are isolated incidents that don’t happen very often,” Willhoite said.

The News-Democrat is not identifying any of the students involved in the incident by name because they are juveniles.

Superintendent Lisa James, Ed.D., said in a phone interview Tuesday that school officials are investigating the incident. Based on these findings, any consequences resulting from the students’ actions will be meted out according to the district’s policies and the law, she said.

Because of laws regarding student confidentiality, neither James nor the district’s attorney, James Crawford, could provide further information regarding any action taken – or any action that may be taken in the future – against the students involved.

Other news outlets have reported that the students involved have been punished in connection with Friday’s incident, but Crawford said he does not know how that information was obtained.

“They’re not getting it from us,” he said.

David Foster, whose daughter was the alleged victim in the attack, said Tuesday that he learned about the incident Friday when his daughter called him on her cell phone immediately afterward.

He said the incident, at first, did not seem that bad. The girl had a couple of scratches and contusions on her head as a result of the attack. It was not until later that night that the family discovered a video of the attack on Facebook.

Foster said neither he nor his wife could watch the entire video because the attack on their daughter appeared to be so brutal.

He said he was planning to press separate charges against the other girls on Wednesday.

Foster also said he hopes to talk with district officials about its decision to allow one of the alleged attackers to ride a regular school bus. He said he has been told that this particular juvenile had been assigned to the Alternative Learning Center “because she has a violent background.

“Sometimes this stuff happens, maybe not this brutal, but it happens,” Foster admitted. “But this could have been prevented. If this can be prevented in the future, if we can learn from this, that’s the important thing.”

Additionally, Foster said that while he believes punishment is in order, he would like to see more done to help the girls responsible for the attack.

“They need help. I don’t want to see them kicked to the curb. They have their whole future ahead of them,” he said. “This goes deeper than just punishment.”

In the meantime, he said, his daughter already is trying to turn the incident into something positive.

“I found out she spent the whole weekend making posters on speaking out against bullying,” he said. “I thought, ‘How great is that?’”

He said his daughter and many of her friends are planning to wear T-shirts to school today, Thursday, with anti-bullying slogans, hoping to encourage fellow students to “stand up and speak out” when they see someone being bullied.

 

News editor Kristin Beck contributed to this report.