KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A teenage girl was punched, kicked, and dragged by her hair in the stairwell of her Kansas City school – and dozens of her classmates have now shared cell phone video of the attack on social media.
The violent confrontation happened at Paseo Academy on Monday afternoon, with the two students involved claiming things escalated because of relentless bullying.
In the video, you see a 14-year-old freshman named Darryl Price attacking a classmate, 14-year-old Amouri’a Johnson. Both told FOX 4 they have been suspended for two days.
The teens said the fight began as an argument in a classroom, then quickly turned violent as it spilled into the hallways and into a staircase – with no adult in sight.
“He kneed me in the face about three times,” said Amouri’a. “I was upset. I was hurt and I was embarrassed, because everybody on social media has seen that fight. Everybody has seen it.”
She claimed Darryl is one of several kids at Paseo Academy who have been bullying her all semester. She said he threw the first punch, leaving her with no choice but to try to defend herself.
“That`s a dude,” Amouri’a said. “Like, he`s putting his hands on a female. That`s not right. I feel like I’m thankful to be here because if it wasn’t for me fighting back, or me finally standing up for myself, then something worse could’ve happened.”
Her step-mom, Veronica Johnson, called the video upsetting.
“I was floored,” Johnson said. “I was completely floored.”
She said she feels school staff could've done more to keep her step-daughter, and the other kids around, safe.
“I was angry,” she said, “because in the video, you don`t see a teacher. You don`t see the security guard. You don`t see a principal or any adult, period, trying to intervene in that fight.”
Of course, there are two sides to every story.
“The situation looks bad because it`s on video and you see a boy hitting a girl, but there were things that escalated to that,” explained Lashanda Temple, Darryl’s mother.
Temple claimed it was actually her son who was being relentlessly bullied for being openly gay.
“No boy should hit a girl, period,” she said. “Just like no man should hit a woman. But my son, this is his second year up there. He’s a gay 14-year-old young male. He’s transitioning into his life and he’s been getting bullied from day one.”
Darryl claimed it was Amouri’a who was calling him names and then spit in his face prior to the fight (something Amouri’a has denied).
“I felt angry, mad and sad,” Darryl said. “I don’t know... It could’ve been addressed better than what I did to her.”
Darryl said that’s when he reached his breaking point.
“Now he decided to defend himself,” Temple said, “and now he`s made out to be a monster and that`s not fair.”
Still, both moms said they don't condone violence – with one now offering an apology.
“I would like to say sorry to her and her family for what happened because it`s not right,” Temple said. “I just feel like we need to get more to the bottom line of the bullying in school and with these kids.”
A KCPS district representative declined an on-camera interview, but issued this statement:
There was a fight between two students on Monday afternoon, Oct. 17 at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. School staff responded and the fight was ended. An investigation is being conducted and the students will be disciplined in accordance with the policies, procedures and consequences explained in the Kansas City Public Schools 2016-2017 Student Code of Conduct.
This incident is not a common occurrence at Paseo Academy this school year. KCPS and Paseo Academy staff will take every available measure to prevent similar incidents in the future.
A top priority of KCPS is to foster a positive environment where high-level teaching and learning occurs. Incidents like this one happen at high schools across the U.S. and illustrate the importance of ongoing efforts to teach young people how to treat each other with respect and how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence. Superintendent Mark Bedell and his team are working hard to develop short- and long-term solutions, including:
- A comprehensive and innovative mentorship program
- Effective anti-bully initiatives at every school
- Trauma-sensitive schools training, resources and procedures for staff