By Brandon Goldner, WCNC
MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. — A Gaston County couple is demanding the school district change its bullying policy after they say their fifth grade daughter, who has special needs, was assaulted by a classmate on the school bus.
On a September afternoon, as the school bus arrived to drop off Melisa Brown’s daughter Lily, her classmates got off the bus and ran to Brown.
Brown said they told her, “Lily needs her mommy. She’s been hurt.”
“I actually climbed up onto the school bus and I scooper her up and I said, ‘It’s okay, I’m here. What happened?'”
Lily has an intellectual disability after being born prematurely. Brown said other students told her a classmate violently pulled Lily’s hair and slapped her.
Ida Rankin Elementary School administrators began investigating, according to Brown.
“They were very concerned, and they said, ‘We’re going to take this very seriously. We’re going to make sure this gets handled,'” Brown told WCNC News.
She said the school told her the bus’ camera didn’t record the incident, but a classmate’s cell phone did.
“The parent that showed me the video said that they had taken the video to the school that very next day and said this is what happened,” Brown said.
But Lily’s mother didn’t see the video until two weeks later.
“I was terrified,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was that bad and the school said nothing. They should’ve made me aware of what happened to my daughter”
Officials with Gaston County Schools said administrators called the police as soon as they saw this video. County officials said this case is now in juvenile court.
“The whole idea behind a juvenile court case is to be rehabilitative,” according to Attorney Holden Clark, who has experience in juvenile and education cases. “It’s to get services in place for kids who are having struggles that [lead] them into a situation where they’re finding themselves charged with criminal actions”
He said the courts are still catching up on old cases after pandemic-related delays.
But Brown wants the county to be more forthcoming in how they punish students who bully.
“She’s not as trustful with her peers as she once was,” Brown said. “I feel like she’s lost a lot of that security”