Virginia mom says she warned school before fight on YouTube

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Local,Virginia,Crime,Scott McCabe

A Fairfax County mother whose teenage daughter was attacked at school last week in a video that quickly showed up on YouTube says she warned school officials about a group of bullies days before the fight.

The grainy cellphone video shows Wendy Settles' daughter standing up to a larger girl before the daughter is punched in the face and dragged to the ground by her hair.

Settles' daughter fought back, and the violence was recorded by one of the instigators and placed on YouTube the same day.

Settles said she warned Centreville High School principals and Fairfax County Public Schools administrators last week that threats by an older group of girls against her 15-year-old child had escalated.

"The school is not taking bullying seriously," Settles told The Washington Examiner. "They can't keep getting away with this, pushing it under the rug."

FCPS spokesman John Torre said any allegation of bullying, harassment or intimidation is taken seriously.

"Bullying, fighting, making threats, stalking or intimidating that endangers the well-being of other students will result in disciplinary action, at the discretion of the principal," Torre said.

The harassment has gone on for a year, Settles said. Her daughter took on the leader of the group in a school restroom last year and was suspended three days, Settles said. The other girl was expelled, Settles said.

But other girls continued to taunt and torment her daughter, and the teen's grades dropped from A's and B's to C's this year as a sophomore, she said.

"It's awful," Settles said. "She can't focus, she can't know when someone's going to come after her."

On Oct. 22, one of the girls' boyfriends called Settles' daughter, threatening to send a larger girl to "beat" her every day until the group got tired, Settles said.

Settles said she called principals, school police and a district official to make everyone aware of the threats.

A teacher broke up one incident the following day, but on Friday another girl confronted Settles' daughter outside the cafeteria. The YouTube video shows the girls arguing loudly for more than 90 seconds before punches are thrown.

Settles' daughter was suspended three days. Students are required to walk away from attacks. The fights will remain on her school record, Settles said.

It is unclear what punishment was handed out to the other girl. Torre said the school district "does not comment on student discipline matters."

"My daughter is lucky that she didn't get seriously hurt," Settles said. "But what about the young lady or young man who can't defend themselves?"

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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