Shocking Video Shows West Hernando Middle School Student Beaten, Mom Wants Answers
Last updated 8/13/2022 at 4:13pm
BROOKSVILLE – Bullying is a problem in every school around the country, but one mother says more could be done to prevent students from living in fear and becoming victims of violence.
Carla Johns dropped off her Then-13-year-old son at West Hernando Middle School on January 18, like any other school day. What she didn't expect was the phone call from the principal's office, less than an hour later, advising that her son was involved in an altercation.
Johns says that when she arrived at the school, staff told her that her son grabbed the arm of another student and that he was smacked in the back of the head, in separate incidents. Johns' son was suspended for two days for his involvement in the incident.
On May 9th, nearly four months after the incident, Johns saw cellphone VIDEO of the altercation that was posted on Instagram and was shocked at how different the original report compared to what actually happened. The video shows the attacker walk up behind Johns' son and punch him several times in the back of the head. Far from the "slap" that Johns says was reported by the School Resource Officer (SRO) and school staff. Johns also learned that the attacker used several racial slurs, like "whiter than glue," "white cracker," "white cheddar," and even called him the "N" word. The attacker is black or Hispanic, but his identity is protected.
Angry at what was revealed, Johns returned to the school the next day to meet with the SRO and Principal Christopher Healy. That's when Johns found out that prior to the attack, her son grabbed the arm of a student to prevent him from hitting someone else, it's unknown at this time if that student is the same one who attacked Johns' son a few minutes later. According to Johns, her son confronted the attacker for calling another student the "N" word. That's why Johns says her son was suspended for two days.
Furious at the new information, Johns demanded that criminal charges be brought against the student, but Johns says she was told it was too late and that once a punishment has been handed down by a school, they cannot reopen a case. Johns also says she was told by the SRO and Principal Healy, "If you pursue charges, this will become a racial issue."
R News contacted the School Board, Principal Healy, and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office for comment, but they have not responded; however, after I reached out to the Sheriff's Office, Johns received call from Lt. Power who said he would be sending someone out to speak with her. Within hours of that call, Corporal Langraff arrived at Johns' residence to take a new report. He also advised that a new case would be opened to investigate the incident.
Johns says there are several issues that need to be addressed at West Hernando Middle School; the overcrowded Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (EBD) Classrooms, mixing children who have been diagnosed with a specific disorder with those who just have behavior problems, and the lack of surveillance cameras in vulnerable locations.
Johns says EBD classrooms do not have enough qualified staff and that Special Needs students are routinely harassed and bullied by students who should not be in EBD classrooms.
Surveillance cameras would solve a lot of problems, says Johns. The front entrance to West Hernando Middle does not have cameras, leaving students who are dropped off before school opens, vulnerable to attacks, bullying, harassment, and other illegal activities.
This isn't the first violent incident Johns' son has experienced at his school. In November of 2021, Johns says a student took his belt, slapped him on the stomach, and then wrapped it around his neck, and tried strangling him. Johns says the school "swept that incident under the rug" and the student was not punished.
Johns says the Hernando County School District and Deputy Langraff have been very helpful so far. They are expected to give her a decision on the matter in the coming week.
Johns says her son's safety is first priority and she wants bullies to be held accountable for their actions. "School staff should be honest and transparent when incidents like this occur," says Johns.
The investigation continues, according to Johns.