Police investigating video showing attack on special needs student in Bethel School District
GRAHAM, Wash. - Law enforcement and educators are investigating video of a student-on-student assault in the Bethel School District.
The video, obtained by FOX 13 News, appears to show a student pummeling another boy in a bathroom at Graham-Kapowsin High School. The attack allegedly occurred on Monday.
We’ve blurred out the faces of the students in the video, but we’ve been told by family that the 9th-grade student who was targeted has special needs and limited ability to communicate.
A school resource officer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department met with the child's mother and the victim.
The sheriff's department on Wednesday told FOX 13 News that it had completed its investigation and the case has been referred to the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office for a charging decision.
The student could be charged with misdemeanor assault. Officials said this case does not rise to the level of felony assault because the victim suffered only minor physical injuries.
Meantime, the district has released a statement to FOX 13 News about the attack, which indicates that the student who was punched needed treatment: "School administration began investigating this situation yesterday morning after a teacher noted that a student in their class needed attention. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department is involved in the incident investigation. Because the students are minors, there is limited information that we can share, but we want our families and students to know that any incident that threatens students’ health or safety is taken very seriously."
The mother, Nelle Vance, said the school initially suspended her son, claiming he instigated the fight for not walking away. She said that because of her son's disability, he wouldn't have known what to do in that situation. Vance says instead, he got up after being beaten and went to class, where his teacher noticed.
Her son's suspension has been rescinded, but she is still keeping him out of school until she is sure he is mentally and emotionally ready, and when she feels like school is safe enough for her son.
"I want to make sure this doesn't happen to another [kid] and another mother's heart isn't broken by seeing her son get beat up on camera," Vance said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for medical expenses.
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