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'She could have killed my daughter': Alexandria mom on school violence caught on video

Joy Majors watching fight video inside Francis Hammond Middle. (7News){p}{/p}
Joy Majors watching fight video inside Francis Hammond Middle. (7News)

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More violence was reported at schools in Alexandria, Virginia -- all caught on video. The 7News I-Team has been all over this major issue for weeks.

“My daughter is being assaulted. She’s being attacked,” says Joy Majors, a mother of an Alexandria City Public Schools student.

Majors is watching a disturbing video of her daughter involved in a fight with another student inside Francis C Hammond Middle School.

The assault was quickly uploaded to social media and given to 7News by Majors. 7News blurred the faces of the students involved in the incident.

“I’m feeling angry, frustrated, hurt,” adds Major.

I-Team Reporter Lisa Fletcher last month exposed multiple fight videos at Alexandria City Public Schools after school resource officers were removed from schools. Those SROs were later brought back after outrage by parents.

RELATED | In the wake of school violence, School Resource Officers reinstated in Alexandria

Majors alerted Hammond Middle school officials the morning of Oct. 20 that a potential assault was about to happen.

The 7News I-Team wants to know why wasn’t this fight and others prevented?

Majors sent an email to the school the day of the fight as a warning. At 8:17 a.m. she wrote: “the girl told her that she was going to fight her or jump her."

The school emailed back 27 minutes later saying Mom’s concerns were shared with four school officials including Principal Anika Buster-Singleton. One employee would be watching and Majors' daughter shouldn’t be nervous about talking to them.

Around 8:40 a.m., Majors says the fight broke out in the cafeteria and Majors says the school’s SRO was on another part of the campus.

“She could have killed my daughter,” says Majors.

The next day, a school official emailed mom writing, “I was so sad to hear my efforts were too late!”

Majors says no one from the school spoke to her daughter before the fight.

The district official dispute the timeline of the assault. They believe the fight broke out between 8:05 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. well before Majors sent them an email warning about the fight.

“How do you think it can be prevented?” asks I-Team Investigative Reporter Scott Taylor.

“When you get emails or phone calls telling the school they should act immediately. Don’t hesitate under no circumstance because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Majors.

So why is the violence happening? Students tell the I-Team it’s because some kids are not used to interacting with others after being out of the classroom during the pandemic.

READ MORE | 'The social skills degraded': Parents say school violence far exceeds pre-pandemic levels

District Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Jr., refused to answer our questions on camera but the District responded with multiple emails and here is a compilation:

“The school year is off to a successful start; our students have settled in and we’re continuing to support their social, emotional, and academic learning needs. Some incidents may be due to trauma, isolation, and resocialization related to the pandemic.

The safety and security of students, families, and staff in our school division is a top priority for ACPS. It is the role of school administrators to manage student behavior and determine student disciplinary action. The school resource officers are not involved in the discipline of students. School administrators have addressed the incident in accordance with standard protocols for disciplinary issues.

ACPS takes all threats seriously and works to keep our schools safe and secure for students and staff. When it comes to handling threats, our school administrators bring in the appropriate support and expertise needed, depending on the specific situation. That could include division leadership, security personnel, members of the Student Services team, and the school crisis management team so that the appropriate staff is involved based on the situation. Threat assessment includes speaking with students upon receipt of a threat. With some threats--such as general threats of violence against a school on social media--the school administration and division leaders work with the Alexandria Police Department.”

Julia Burgos

Chief of School and Community Relations

Alexandria City Public Schools

SEE ALSO | Safety concerns on & off campus after a student is shot near Alexandria City High School

Majors says she has filed a complaint of assault with the Alexandria City Police Department.

“This is your treasure and you are giving your treasure to the school district,” says Scott Taylor.

“I am, and they are legally responsible when she goes to school. I am,” says Majors.

“And you think they failed her?” asks Scott Taylor.

“They failed her. Yes, and all the other kids that were not protected. They failed,” says Majors.

Here are the additional questions 7News asked the Alexandria City Public Schools to answer:

What is the standard penalty for a student who assaults another student?

"Please refer to the Student Code of Conduct for specifics related to student behavior. School administrators have addressed all incidents this year in accordance with standard protocols for disciplinary issues."

What does the District believe is the root cause of the recent student assaults in the District?

"The school year is off to a successful start; our students have settled in and we’re continuing to support their social, emotional, and academic learning needs. Some incidents may be due to trauma, isolation, and resocialization related to the pandemic."

What is the standard procedure in the District when a parent or child warns the District of a potential threat of assault?

"All threats are taken seriously. For procedures, please see the Student Code of Conduct."

When the District is warned by a parent that an assault could happen, is an employee with the District required to speak to the two students involved in the potential assault?

"All threats are taken seriously. School safety and security are a top priority for our schools. ACPS leadership works with our security team to maintain a safe environment for students and staff in our buildings. Student involvement in incidents is investigated by school administration to include witnesses and handled using a tiered system of support for all students involved."

7News asked The Virginia Department of Education if school districts are not allowed to speak to the media about an assault on campus under current state or federal law? The Virginia Department of Education responded:

“Please refer to this federal FERPA guidance document, specifically the answer to Question 8 for more information on student privacy law. Additionally, the state code does include references on access to academic records specifically, here is the statutory language.”

Ken Blackstone

Virginia Department of Education

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7News reviewed FERPA and it appears a school district can talk to the media about how it handles an assault on campus, but cannot reveal the identity of students involved in any incident.

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