The victim in beating said she was told at a meeting with administrators on Thursday that the student did not receive any out-of-school suspension for the assault.
By Heather Osbourne | 315-4440 | @heatheronwfdn | email@example.com
CRESTVIEW — Video footage of a Crestview High School student being viciously beaten by a classmate was widely shared on social media Thursday.
The victim of the attack, Kyla Ross, stepped forward Friday in hopes the school will do more to punish the perpetrator and ensure her safety.
According to Ross, she was sitting at the school bus ramp braiding her hair on Oct. 19 when she heard yelling. As she looked up, all Ross saw was a female student’s fist coming toward her face.
“After she punched me, she grabbed the back of my head and I buckled and didn’t even try to defend myself,” said Ross, who is a senior. “I just know I was trying to protect my face from her kicking and kneeing me.”
The graphic video footage shows the girl pulling Ross’ long hair as she punched and kicked her. Two other students during the 36-second Snapchat video tried to stop the beating.
Ginny Powell, a local attorney who is advising Ross’ mother, described the event as “horrific.”
“It’s hard to fathom that something like this is happening at our local high school,” Powell said. “If the other student wouldn’t have pulled the girl off of Kyla, she could have been knocked unconscious.”
Ross was taken to the hospital and treated for bruising on her face, arms, ears, chest and scalp. She also received rashes on her cheeks and arms from being dragged on the ground by her hair.
Noting she continues to be harassed and threatened by the attacker’s family and friends, Ross said she was told at a meeting with administrators on Thursday that the student did not receive any out-of-school suspension for the assault.
Ross said, to the best of her knowledge, the student received only five days of in-school suspension.
“I don’t feel like the school properly handled the situation,” she said. “She’s back at school and she walks behind me in the hallways. She stares at me. I feel like she’s going to do something again.”
Ross said she believes the student was angry with her because she was texting the girl’s ex-boyfriend. Ross said she had only spoken to the girl one other time before being attacked.
When asked for information about the incident, Okaloosa County School District spokesman Henry Kelley said he could neither confirm or deny student names or discipline in student-related matters because of state law and School Board policy.
“Therefore, ‘discipline is handled in accordance with school board policy,’ ” Kelley said. “The most important thing parents can do is contact their school administration and work up the chain of command on issues with their child.”
Kayla Ross, Kyla’s mother, filed a second restraining order Friday to try to keep her daughter safe at school. The student, according to Ross, was arrested for misdemeanor battery and is awaiting a court date. Ross said she already has alerted Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson’s office of the incident and sent the video to the State Attorney’s Office.
“The principal of the school didn’t know this had even occurred,” Kayla said. “He called Kyla’s father last night (Thursday) because she posted it online. He said Kyla should have come to him instead of posting it.”
Kayla said Ben Kimbrough, the dean of students, was the one who handled the situation. She added being told that the school resource officer wasn’t on school property when the fight occurred.
Kyla, who said she posted her story on a local Facebook page to ask for advice, hopes the publicity will lead to a harsher punishment for her attacker.
“She was arrested and released and hardly got any punishment,” Kyla said. “It’s two weeks later and I’m still receiving threats. People said I hadn’t learned my lesson. I honestly hope she gets expelled.”