MILLINOCKET, Maine – Several students have been suspended for as many as 10 days for a fight at Stearns High School on Tuesday in which a 13-year-old middle school girl suffered eye damage and a broken nose, Superintendent Kenneth Smith said Friday.
Smith declined to say how many students had been suspended or when the suspensions began. The matter will also be referred to the Millinocket school committee.
Under school policies, only the school board can expel students, but Smith would not say whether expulsions would be sought.
“We are still dealing with it. We have to notify parents. There is a whole new procedure approved by the state Legislature regarding expulsion hearings that we have to examine,” Smith said Friday.
“We will refer the matter to the board because I think it is an appropriate action,” Smith added. “We have done the maximum that we can do under the law and I feel that the board” should be involved.
The police investigation is continuing, Police Chief Donald Bolduc said Friday. It was unclear Friday afternoon whether arrests had been made.
If arrests occur, most of the students involved appear to be minors and would likely have their cases referred to juvenile court, but the 16-year-old could be charged as an adult if police and prosecutors determine the accusations against her warrant it.
Smith and the girl’s mother, Erica Dash, have said that two girls attacked Dash’s daughter, an eighth-grader who attends the adjoining middle school at Stearns, as she walked in a school hallway after classes had let out for the day at about 2 p.m. Tuesday.
After Dash’s daughter and an eighth-grader exchanged punches, a 16-year-old Stearns High junior kicked the victim in the head, breaking her nose and damaging her eye, as the other attacker held her bent over, they have said.
Two students recorded the incident and later posted videos to Facebook, they said. The videos were apparently pulled from the site, but officials have copies of them, Dash has said.
Doctors have said eye surgery is unlikely, but surgery to fix her daughter’s slightly displaced nose will probably have to occur, Dash has said.
The kick caused bleeding within the eye and a reduction of its clarity from 20/20 to 20/25. The damage might be permanent, Dash has said.
The school board hearing dates have not been set. The hearings will not occur during a regular school board meeting but during a special meeting the board will call, Smith said.
The girl’s mother has complimented school officials for their swift and sympathetic response to the incident and the excellent academic atmosphere at Stearns.