Students allegedly attacked, injured in after-school bullying incident
By ERIN ROLL
The mother of a Montclair High School student is urging the school district to take action following the alleged attack of her daughter and friends by other students on Friday, May 31.
In a statement made at the June 5 Board of Education meeting, Ursula Smith-Lloyd said her daughter and her friends were “savagely” attacked on Mission Street by a group of other students.
The perpetrators hid behind parked cars waiting for her daughter and her friends, and then “sucker-punched” the girls, she told the board.
“I would never expect my child to be beaten, kicked in the head, and another child to be taken away in an ambulance,” Smith-Lloyd said.
The police responded to the incident at 4:15 p.m. after a resident reported a large altercation involving several juveniles, said Police Lt. David O’Dowd. As police arrived, the crowd had begun to disperse and some of the juveniles had left the scene. Four female students, aged 15 and 16, remained at the scene, and paramedics treated them for scratches to the face, O'Dowd said.
One girl feeling light-headed was taken to Mountainside Hospital by ambulance, O’Dowd said.
The incident is under investigation by the Juvenile Aid Bureau, he said. As of Thursday, June 6, Juvenile Aid was still identifying all involved students. The school district is cooperating with the investigation.
Besides the physical bullying, Smith-Lloyd said, there has been cyberbullying as well. She said one of the perpetrators put together an edited video of the attack, with music, and circulated it on social media.
The students who initiated the attack continued to taunt and mock her daughter and the other victims at school after the attack and they no longer feel comfortable sending her to school, she said.
Superintendent Kendra Johnson said she was saddened and troubled by the incident. “My heart, my soul is very heavy,” she said.
Johnson said there were some limitations in what the school district could do directly, since the incident took place off of school property. Working closely with the Montclair Police Department, all criminal activity involved in the incident is being documented, she said.
“Our kids’ safety is our number-one priority,” Johnson said.
For on-campus incidents, including Smith-Lloyd’s allegations that the perpetrators continued to bully and taunt students at school, the school can take disciplinary action, Johnson said.
BOE President Eve Robinson confirmed that Johnson had kept the board apprised of the details related to the assault. “And we are all very concerned. I think you can be assured that we all take this very seriously,” she said.
In another recent case, Police Lt. David O’Dowd said police responded to a report of two female MHS students fighting in the rear courtyard at Ruthie’s, a Chestnut Street eatery near the high school, on May 1.
The parent of one of the girls told Montclair Local that his daughter had been a target of bullying for some time.
Johnson said the matter was being addressed in accordance with “school policy and the code of conduct, and that restorative justice practices were being used.”
In May, the district released numbers on bullying cases that revealed a rise in incidents. Montclair saw 16 confirmed cases of bullying, and 49 alleged cases, during the first half of the 2018-2019 school year, up nine from the previous and more than tripling from 2016-2017.