Discovery Middle School responds after cellphone video shows student attack

GRANGER, Ind. (WNDU) --- NewsCenter 16 viewers may have seen a cellphone video that has been shared many times on social media. It shows a local middle school student beating up another boy in the school's bathroom during a passing period on Monday.

On Tuesday, Discovery Middle School Principal Sheryll Harper wrote a letter to families, addressing the video and clarifying rumors and misunderstandings about the footage.

Harper's letter says three general education students were involved, despite what has been said on social media.

The principal also writes, "Teachers on hall duty heard the disruption in the bathroom, and while it is not seen on the video, the teachers did intervene quickly."

Once the boys involved left the bathroom, they were stopped. The principal says the school immediately began its investigation and contacted the parents of the students involved.

"I was in sheer shock," said Sarah Lamonds, of Mishawaka.

Lamonds has children who go to school in a different district. Nevertheless, she saw the video on Facebook and reached out to NewsCenter 16.

"I just couldn't believe that was happening, for one, and for two, that all the other students were standing around doing nothing while this little boy was being attacked," she said.

The fight struck a chord with Lamonds, who says her son has been bullied.

"It starts at home. We have to teach our children better," she said. "We have to show them right from wrong. We have to hold them accountable for their actions, because if we don't hold them accountable now, who will?"

Discovery Middle School says the boys involved have been disciplined according to what's laid out in the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation Student Handbook, which spells out the range and full scope of consequences for violating the Code of Conduct.

The principal says the school reserves the right to add more consequences as its investigation continues.

Full statement from Discovery Middle School Principal Sheryll Harper:
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Dear Discovery Parent/Guardian,

This letter is to inform you of a student altercation that took place late yesterday afternoon (Monday, April 8) in the boys restroom. The fight was captured on video. We are aware that the cell phone video of this altercation has been shared and many of our students and families have seen it. I wanted to take some time this morning to clear up some rumors and misunderstandings.

This incident happened during a passing period. This incident involved three general education students, despite what has been discussed and questioned on social media. Teachers on hall duty heard the disruption in the bathroom, and while it is not seen on the video, the teachers did intervene quickly. All the boys involved were stopped as they exited the bathroom and our investigation into the incident began immediately, including contacting the parents of those involved. Following the P-H-M Student Handbook disciplinary guidelines, we have responded with appropriate disciplinary action for all those involved and we reserve the right to issue more consequences as our investigation continues. Please respect and understand that under FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) we can not disclose or discuss the details of these students’ disciplinary measures with those not involved in the incident.

I know many of our families and students have seen the video and have since learned that it has also been shared with local news media. It is disturbing in nature on many levels. This incident serves as a stark reminder to please reinforce with your children the importance of reporting any and all unsafe behavior or situation immediately to an adult, especially when something is actively taking place. This is something we discuss frequently in school … see something, say something!

The safety of your child and all our students is a top priority for Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation. We take these matters very seriously, responding immediately with the appropriate action. P-H-M also utilizes the Safe School Helpline® as a confidential way to report anything that threatens the safety of our schools. It is Available 24/7 via phone, text, online or download the new app:

Safe School Helpline®

Call: 1-800-418-6423, ext. 359

Text: TIPS to 66746

Online: SafeSchoolHelpline.com

Download the new app: www.phmschools.org/safe-school-helpline

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (574) 674-6010 or sharper@phm.k12.in.us.

Respectfully yours,
Sheryll Harper, Principal
Discovery Middle School