On Your Side: Mother faults school's response - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

On Your Side: Highland Springs mother faults school's response after attack on son


When should a principal send a letter home to parents, alerting them to possible gang violence on school grounds?

A Highland Springs 9th grader says three older students beat him badly in the bathroom. His mother says the school put his life in danger because they did not tell parents about the bathroom beatings, which she claims were happening to other students before her son was assaulted.

Lavance Wright says three teen boys behind the surprise attack could be seen on school security video walking behind him into the bathroom while a girl who ordered the beat down waited outside the door.  

The video is exempt from disclosure, according to Henrico County officials, and NBC12 was not allowed to view it.

"They were just punching me, and I was on the floor, and I was trying to cover my face," Wright said.

Instead of calling 911 for an ambulance, Raina Hammond said the school held her injured son covered in blood in the school's clinic until she arrived. Then, they asked her permission to search him, his book bag and laptop.

"The assistant principal is taking my son's shoes off. This whole time my son is sitting there with the broken bones in his face," she said.

Hammond said they were looking for a gang connection and found none.  She said the officer later apologized.

"He said that he was sorry about that, but they'd been having so many issues with kids being pulled into bathrooms and jumped into the gang," she said.

Hammond said she met with the head principal, who promised to call her back, but that call didn't come until 18 days later, she said.

"My son being beat until he was unconscious, laying on your floor at your school, and the broken bones in his face. My son was that forgettable?" she asked.  

Here's how Henrico Schools responded:

"Students and staff have every right to feel safe. Conduct that undermines that right will be dealt with appropriately. We also take seriously the privacy rights of our students and decline to comment."

Wright won't return to Highland Springs but he encourages others to speak up and get help.
Wright's mother wants all four students charged to send a no-tolerance message. She claims there's an uptick in students getting jumped in bathrooms.
Her attorney says the school has yet to tell anybody and find a solution.

"There have been other students assaulted in this very restroom, in the hallways and outside," said attorney Jonathan Halperin. "They know about the problem and did nothing. To me that's gross neglect."

Students said there are gangs at the school that beat up people over silly stuff or, for no reason at all. The Henrico Schools spokesperson would only say the safety of students and staff is their highest priority.

According to Halperin, an 18-year-old is charged with malicious wounding in relation to the bathroom attack, and the school will handle what, if anything, will happen to the other three attackers.

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