When your child is attacked in school, what’s a parent to do?

November 16 – NEWS TALK 1037FM received an email from a local parent whose 10th grade daughter was attacked in the halls of the Chambersburg Area Senior High School over an alleged misunderstanding with two other girls.

The parent included video of the attack, which was filmed by another student on a smart phone.

The parent is trying to get assault charges filed on the attacker, but it’s been a lot of back-and-forth and nothing has come of it yet other than a possible disorderly conduct charge. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed this issue this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Ryan has sent a note to Dr. Dion Betts, superintendent of the Chambersburg Area School District, about the situation and as of this post… STILL has not had a response.

Barkdoll wondered, “Towards this who I’ll call the aggressor, why aren’t there charges being filed? Schools now have these school resource officers. It’s a huge part of the budget. These officers, they are just like police. They have the authority to file charges. I would be interested to know if there have not been criminal charges filed, why not? Because based on what I saw on that video, this clearly is an assault. It could even be an aggravated assault.”

Additionally, Barkdoll suggested the whole thing was obviously a set up.

“What I mean by that,” he said, “is someone’s got a cell phone out in say the minute before the fight and they’re following the aggressor and there’s clearly the anticipation that this whole thing is about to go down. I think that’s a relevant point. If this were in court, that’s certainly something a judge or a jury would consider. This was not as spontaneous or as impromptu as the aggressor may want people to believe because you’ve got about a minute of video there leading up to this where she’s walking down the hall, her friend must have known this was about to happen, hence the fact that they’ve got a camera pulled out the entire time. This is really, really troubling. I would love to hear the school district’s explanation on why the other person involved in the fight got suspended. From the piece of the video I saw, which seems to show the entire fight, I don’t see where this other person would have done anything constituting a punishment. It looks like she was defending herself, as anyone would do, as anyone should do. I think there’s a lot of questions here for the school district and for that matter even the school board to answer. I realize there may be aspects of this that we don’t know, but that’s why I think the district needs to get engaged now and give us more information if there is more to be learned here.”

Jansen pointed out, “And we can only go by what the parent of this child that was assaulted and she says that though they tried to press charges apparently with a police officer from Chambersburg for assault, they said he stepped out of it. He said he no longer had a role for it. And the school according to the parent said they were arresting her. I don’t know who’s doing the arresting here, if that was the proper term, or was it maybe charged? But she says arrested for disorderly conduct, which does seem to be a lesser than what really happened. It looks like an assault to me as well. I know the school’s going to say this is internal. This is a student, but they should be able to talk about the general circumstances, shouldn’t they? Don’t parents have a right to know how a situation like this is going to be handled? Because apparently this girl is getting continued to be harassed by this girl’s friends. The other question I have for the school is why do children have smart phones? I don’t understand why they have them in school at all. Of course, people will say oh, for protection. Why are they allowed to walk around recording? We know with teenagers, they want their 15 seconds of fame on social media. They do set things up. They like the drama. They like the attention. They’ll even put stuff online that they can be arrested for. They’re so ignorant of not understanding what is allowable in society anymore it seems. So why are they even allowed to have this kind of situation where students can do this kind of stuff?”

Barkdoll said, “I am not a fan of smart phones in schools and I know they’re there, but this case really illustrates the problems that are created when someone has a smart phone. I would also be interested to know the person that took that video, has he or she been interviewed? There’s a criminal charge in Pennsylvania known as conspiracy, meaning that if you’re participating in the event, in the crime, you’re helping with it, you also could be charged. The disorderly conduct, that is what’s called a summary offense. That’s graded like a traffic ticket. That really is nothing. From the piece that I saw in that video, this looked to me like way beyond a disorderly conduct. When you’re seeing fists thrown and on the ground and punches and kicks, that to me looks much more like an assault, not a disorderly conduct. Again, I think there’s just a lot of questions here that the district’s going to have to still answer on this.”

Jansen said, “According to the parent, the Chambersburg officer did say to the parent the person filming should also be, that should be attention given to that as well. That they did something wrong by encouraging it by filming it.”