Parents informed of assault at school

Board says it won’t tolerate violence; police investigating attack

Published on November 22, 2012
RNC Const. Steve Curnew speaks to reporters near Leary’s Brook Junior High School on Larkhall Street in
St. John’s after classes ended Tuesday afternoon. A case of bullying was recently reported at the school which has lead to assault charges against a female Grade 8 student.  — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

The administrator of a St. John’s junior high where a teenaged girl was charged with assault has sent a voice message home to parents.

Ken Morrissey, spokesman for the Eastern School District, says the correspondence from Leary’s Brook principal Byron Head is meant to tell mothers, fathers and guardians about what happened.

“You know, pointing out it is an isolated incident, but more importantly, to talk to their children about it, and if you’ve got any questions or your children are concerned, contact the school. They are going to work with the children and the parents as well,” Morrissey said.

The board took the lead on answering school-related questions on the incident Wednesday.

On Monday, a female Grade 8 student allegedly beat up a girl in Grade 9.

It happened inside the school and was filmed by students with cellphones.

The aggressor was charged with assault, released on an undertaking and suspended from school. She’s scheduled to be back in court Dec. 11.

The victim was taken to hospital, treated and released.

Another student — reportedly the one who recorded it — was also suspended.

Morrissey said the board will continue to review what happened and it treats such incidents “very seriously, as you can see from the RNC involvement and the fact there are charges laid with respect to it.”

The spokesman wouldn’t disclose the length of the suspensions, but he did say board policy allows a principal to suspend a student for five days and the district to extend that if deemed necessary.

“As part of our review, further suspension is possible,” he said.

Morrissey said there are a lot of programs and initiatives in schools to combat bullying and violence, and the administration feels comfortable in the actions that have been taken.

“Very clearly, within our schools, violence is not permitted. We don’t stand for it. It’s not tolerated,” he said.

He encouraged students who feel they are being intimidated, or who have encountered violence, to “talk to someone they trust, a parent, a teacher, and we’ll do everything (we) can.”

Meanwhile, the RNC held a news conference Wednesday to update reporters about the case.

RNC Const. Steve Curnew told reporters police have questioned a number of witnesses to the incident, but officers would like anyone else with pertinent information to come forward.

They are also reviewing the video evidence.

To his knowledge, none of the videos had made their way online to social media or YouTube as of Wednesday.

This is the second such incident in a Newfoundland school in as many months.

In early October, there was a two-on-one fight between three female students near Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown.

A large group of students watched the fight, with some encouraging it and others recording it with their cellphones.

That incident was linked in media reports to a history of bullying between the three girls.

Police are hesitant to make a similar correlation in this most recent case.

“That’s something that’s still part of the investigation. Incidents leading up to the actual assault are what officers are looking into right now,” Curnew said.

He told reporters that it is still rare for the RNC to be called to incidents of this sort at schools.

“I would imagine there’s a lot that does not get reported. The RNC does not respond often to these calls at schools. But like I said, a lot of that stuff probably goes unreported to us,” he said.

“But even one call is too many.”