Violent girl fight videos point to alleged school bullying problem
Students, parents say Dillard High School not addressing dangerous situation
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – One cellphone video shows a group of girls attacking one girl in the hallway of Dillard High School and then moving on to a second girl, punching and kicking both of them.
Another shows two girls rolling on the hallway floor, fists flying.
Girls in both videos said they are victims of bullying at the school, and that the Broward County school board, which often boasts of its anti-bullying policy, isn't doing enough to stop it.
"They keep attacking me," said an emotional 14-year-old Mariah Green, an eighth-grad student at Dillard High School, which includes grades six through 12. "I'm literally the innocent person being attacked for no reason. I could be walking down the hallway and then somebody will come bump into me and want to fight me for no reason."
In a video taken at the school roughly three weeks ago, numerous girls can be seen attacking one girl in the hallway before they pummel Mariah to the floor. An adult finally breaks up the melee before anyone is seriously injured. Mariah said she's also been threatened and harassed.
"I have to call my mama every hour to have her talk me to class," she said. "They follow me home. Like why are you all following me home?"
Her mother, Sarah Green, said she has complained to the school to no avail.
"There's no safety for my daughter," said Green. "Where's the safety for my daughter?"
Another alleged victim of the same group of girls is fellow eighth-grade student Jar'Kivia Davis, also 14. She said that on Friday, she was approached in the hallway by one of the girls in the same group.
“When I walked out of the classroom, a girl [name deleted] said, 'when you see me, put your hands up,' so I kept on walking," she said. "I was getting ready to call my grandmother. The boy said, 'Watch out, here she comes,' and when I turned around she grabbed my hair, so we just started fighting."
Cellphone video captured the ensuing fight, ending with Jar’Kivia getting punched repeatedly on the floor before an adult at the school intervened.
"It's supposed to be safe," said her grandmother, Jacqueline Davis. "There are school police, there's school security there, but yet these kids are getting beat like this. It's sad."
Davis said she has gone to school administrators repeatedly to try to prevent the violence and showed them a text in which a student allegedly threatened to "off" her granddaughter.
"I've been there for three whole weeks trying to prevent her from having to fight anybody," she said. "These girls are big, they are tall, and they come in packs. It's 12 kids jumping on one child's head."
The school board has often lauded its anti-bullying policy, which Superintendent Robert Runcie has said leads the state of Florida, but that policy dictates that within two days of a complaint, either a formal investigation or a mediation process should begin. Both families said that hasn't happened yet in this case, insisting there has been no formal investigation or mediation.
"When you report about it, they just act like nothing ever happened," said Mariah. "Look out for other people's children's safety, because people are out here dying every day."
The school district issued the following statement: "Broward County Public Schools takes all incidents involving student safety seriously. Disciplinary actions for students involved in fighting, as well as bullying, are handled in accordance with the District’s discipline matrix and code of student conduct. School leadership will continue to meet with and work with the students and families involved, as well as local law enforcement, and is taking all necessary actions to ensure the safety of students. The school will continue to take any reported incident seriously and will respond accordingly."
But the two families said they don't feel safe at all, prompting them to go to police on Friday and to the state attorney's office, where they said a juvenile crimes prosecutor offered to assist them in switching schools.
"Why do they have to change schools because of bullying?" asked Green rhetorically. "The bullies should be out of the schools. Not these kids."
Meanwhile, both girls have missed school due to both suspensions because of the videotaped fights and to being held out of school out of safety concerns, hurting their academic performance. Mariah said she has been an A student in the past but is now “on the verge of failing” and missed her state standardized test in math due to the drama.
"We don't want to continually get attacked until someone gets seriously hurt," said Mariah. "We just want justice for everybody that's getting jumped at Dillard. The problem is unresolved."
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