By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Two O.L. Smith students who were video recorded fighting each other during gym class have been disciplined, according to a letter posted by Principal Zeina Jebril Feb. 11.
Muneera Safieddine, the mother of O.L. Smith student Alena Safieddine, 12, identified her daughter as one of the two students involved in the Feb. 10 fight.
She said a police report and been filed and that she plans to press charges claiming the fight was not her daughter’s fault because Alena was protecting herself.
She said Alena was cut near her eye and has headaches and broken glasses following the fight with a fellow student. In the 9-second clip, the boy can be seen repeatedly hitting Alena until she falls to the ground before a teacher and a student step in.
Before the video began, the seventh-grade students had pushed each other and that Alena was bullied by friends of the boy, Safieddine said.
She added that both her daughter and the boy were suspended for three days.
Dearborn Public Schools Communications Director David Mustonen said the students were disciplined appropriately following the student code of conduct and a thorough investigation was conducted including interviewing students and school staff who witnessed the fight.
During the gym class, the boy allegedly approached Alena and told her the pair were going to do a 30-second fight, something that has reportedly become a trend at the school. Safieddine said her daughter was defending herself by hitting back after she was pushed.
Now, Safieddine does not want to send Alena back to school unless the boy is expelled because he has hit her on a previous occasion a couple months ago. The pair had been friends since the fourth grade before having a falling out. and stopped talking.
Safieddine said she asked the school district to move her daughter to another school, which the district is working with her to get done.
The letter from Jebril said the video being circulated only shows the final moments of the “very unfortunate outcome of a situation that began as what was described by witnesses as ‘fooling around and horseplay.’”
The school’s investigation and interviews with witnesses provided a more complete picture of what led up to the event, the letter read.
“These two students let their emotions get out of hand and made bad choices on how to resolve their situation,” Jebril wrote. “Our legal obligation to protect the privacy of students does not allow us to provide details on disciplinary actions taken in response to this event but we can assure parents that we have spoken with all parties involved and followed the Dearborn Public Schools Student Code of Conduct.”
She added that part of growing up is learning how to control one’s emotions and tempers and that many middle school students are still working to develop those skills.
“However, there is no excuse for students to engage in this type of behavior and this will not be acceptable at our school,” the letter read. “I know that the few seconds of video does not reflect the the overall conduct of our students or the culture and climate in our building.
“I’m confident that our school community will continue to focus on the successes of our students and the accomplishments of our school while also being aware that we must continuously work together to create a safe and secure school for all O.L. Smith students.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])