2 accessories in bullying case can return to school
Judge dismisses civil cases against girls charged as accessories
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A judge on Tuesday dismissed civil cases against two girls accused of being involved in a bullying case that left a third girl charged with aggravated battery and banned from Duval County schools.
Investigators said one of the girls video recorded a fight between 14-year-olds Paris Cannon (pictured, below) and Aria Jewett (seen above) at Oceanway Middle School, and the other girl lured Jewett off campus to the scene of the fight. Jewett was left with a skull fracture and unconscious after the fight.
Now that the civil cases have been dismissed, the two girls can return to school and be around Jewett if they want.
"I've got a very scared kid who doesn't want to go back to school tomorrow," said John Phillips, Jewett's attorney.
Injunctions filed were to keep the girls 500 feet away from Jewett, keep them out of the school and away from each other's homes, but Judge Henry Davis dismissed the injunctions. Both girls still have criminal cases pending.
The judge made the ruling based on the statue for "repeat violence," which the defense says requires two acts of violence.
Phillips still argues the statute only requires one act of violence, and he's "confused" because he made the same argument in the Cannon case and got a much different result from the same judge, who banned Cannon (pictured, below) from all Duval County schools.
Both Cannon's attorney and Phillips agree the judge is making inconsistent rulings.
Meanwhile, Duval County Superintendent on Tuesday spoke of the judge's previous ruling to ban Cannon from all county schools. He said he thinks the judge sees a lot of juvenile criminals in his court and probably acted out of frustration. He said banning a student from all schools in the district, from getting a free and public education, he believes is unconstitutional.
"Not only is that unconstitutional, but long-term, are we really building children who have to function in our society?" Vitti said. "Will they function in our society better if they're not provided an education?"
Vitti said he wants to make it clear the fight did not take place on campus but happened outside of school and not during school hours. He said the bully was given a 10-day out-of-school suspension. Phillips is asking for more.
"What I would like to see addressed is Dr. Vitti do an expulsion, let the School Board do what it's supposed to do rather than us run in and out of the steps of justice and deal with newspaper articles over whether or not a judge was right or wrong, you know," Phillips said. "That's not the way to put pressure on the judicial process. It's do what's right and get kids who beat kids up out of school."
Vitti agrees that she should have been arrested and probably would not have had her return to the same school as the victim, but he said he does not think she should be banned from all Duval County schools. He said she doesn't have a criminal background, and even juveniles who do are still allowed to return to county schools.
Vitti also talked about steps he and administrators are taking to combat bullying problems in schools, including and a proposal that would put a dean of discipline in every middle and high school in the county, having full-time teachers in every in-school suspension setting, as well as increasing the guidance counselor-to-student ratio and number of security guards on campus.
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