School Bus Bullies: Attackers Face Charges

PHOTO: Seven students who are accused of beating a 13-year-old girl unconscious on her first day riding the school bus have been sentenced to court-ordered house arrest and could face expulsion, according to authorities.
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Seven students who are accused of beating a 13-year-old girl unconscious on her first day riding the school bus are being kept under house arrest and are facing criminal charges and expulsion, according to authorities.

The Marion County, Fla., students face felony battery and disorderly conduct charges for the Friday morning melee in which the girl suffered a concussion, severe bruising and muscle spasms. A judge in Marion County ordered the students to home confinement on Saturday.

According to police reports, the fight broke out when the girl was told by other students she could not sit on the bus and a student threw a shoe at her. The girl threw the shoe back, reportedly hitting one student, and at least seven students responded by attacking her, police reports state.

According to testimony by one of the alleged attackers, a boy asked the group of students who would like to punch the girl first, and another suggested they all form a circle around the girl. The students then began punching and kicking her. One girl admitted to punching the victim 10 to 15 times.

The bus driver saw the fight and pulled the bus over, temporarily stopping the fighting, according to Marion County School District spokesman Kevin Christian. But when he began driving again, the students once again began attacking the victim.

The driver, unable to break up the fight, continued onto Liberty Middle School, where he contacted administrators and police for assistance, Christian said. The driver and school administrators all followed district policy and training guidelines on how to handle the situation, Christian said.

The alleged attackers, ages 12 through 14, will remain out of school until the school administration conducts its own investigation into the events and the school board makes a decision about their status, Christian said. Students who are typically caught fighting and are arrested are transferred to another school within the district, though in rare cases students can be expelled completely, he said.

Christian defended the school's handling of the incident, saying that the policies it has in place to deal with criminal behavior work.

"What we've got works. The fact that the seven students were arrested shows clearly it works. We won't put up with it. It's an outrage that seven kids would attack one kid regardless of situation," he said.

Christian noted that the school does have anti-bullying programs, including having student's sign a non-violence pledge.

Police would not say whether the girl was released from the hospital.

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