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District Faces Lawsuit In School Assault

This portion of the video shown on television station WTVA shows the blurred image of the attacker standing over the victim. The video was shot by a student with a cell phone in the school cafeteria.

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The mother of a 7th grade student is taking legal action against the local school district as the result of violent attack in the high school cafeteria that was caught on cell phone video.
Around 3 p.m. Monday school officials received a “notice of claim pursuant to Mississippi Code 11-46-11,” according to Superintendent Kim Chrestman. The code section covers required notification of the chief executive officer of a government entity “after all procedures within a governmental entity have been exhausted.”
The mother, Rhonda Hughes, appeared before the school board during the first Monday meeting Nov. 3 in executive session, which is standard procedure to discuss student issues and potential legal action.
Before the meeting district officials informed the Herald of the incident and the possibility of a lawsuit against the school.
Rhonda Hughes provided video of the attack to television station WTVA that she says shows a female student standing over and striking her daughter, Destiny, multiple times while her child was seated at a table in the cafeteria.
The video, which is also linked on the FaceBook social media site, has been shared over 350 times and has more than 125 comments.
The students involved in taking the cell phone video were disciplined under the school’s student handbook policy that prohibits the taking of video in the school. And, because they knew the incident was about to occur and did not inform a teacher or administrator. “There is evidence that there was prior planning and intent,” said Chrestman. “We followed the handbook policy.”
“It was very evident that several students knew what was about to happen and the video taping was evidence of that,” he continued. “But, none of them alerted any faculty or staff that the event was about to happen.”
Chrestman noted that the school resource officer, Steve Story, also filed appropriate charges against the attacker with local law enforcement.
The mother’s lawsuit is being handled by Water Valley native William E. Trusty of the Trusty Law Firm of Batesville.

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