Family of St. Johns County middle schooler attacked in class demands policy changes

Father: ‘We cannot allow this to happen,’ ‘It’s our due diligence to do better’

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – After his son was injured in a violent attack at Switzerland Point Middle School, Mark Alvelo spoke out to the St. Johns County School Board during its meeting Monday, calling for action.

The teen’s father demanded the board increase the punishment for the student or students that bullied, threatened and assaulted his son, and called for more robust attention to warning signs and parental alerts about potential violence.

Alvelo said his son suffered a broken nose, a concussion, and multiple bruises from the attack — to say nothing of the psychological injuries sustained by his son and other family members.

RELATED: Video of St. Johns County middle school student attack spurs criticism of district’s cellphone policy | Parents raise concerns after video circulates of violent middle school ‘fight’

“I have to deal with plastic surgeries, have to deal with social media,” Alvelo told the board in his 3 minutes of remarks. “I have to deal with possible suicidal thoughts now. Am I irate? Yes, I am. But I’m here to make sure that this doesn’t happen to another kid in his county. We cannot allow this to happen. It’s our due diligence to do better.”

Alvelo’s daughter, the sister of the student who was attacked, also spoke out at the meeting Monday.

“I can tell you right now, my brother doesn’t deserve it,” Madison Alvelo said. “No child deserves anything like this.”

Family members of the injured student called on the board to vote to expel the student who attacked their family member, strengthen the ability of school employees to intervene in an active fight or attack and to pay closer attention when parents raise concerns about potential violence or bullying.

“How could that teacher have stopped the situation in the video,” Madison Alvelo asked. “She simply stands there. She does absolutely nothing. As my brother gets brutally attacked and crawls away from his attacker. She should know how to take care of that situation and students should be aware if they should call 911.”

Mark Alvelo maintains he told school officials in the days leading up to the attack that another student had been threatening his son but says administrators assured him, as recently as the day of the attack, that there was nothing to worry about.

“I have to look at private schools and possibly homeschool because I can’t rely on the public school system to protect him,” Mark Alvelo said. “If [the attacker] would have had a gun or a knife, I would have been burying my son last week. So, let’s take this seriously, and let’s take all the warning signs and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

According to St. Johns County School District policy, the offense of “serious assault” is listed as a level 4 infraction, the most grievous. It carries a punishment ranging from suspension to expulsion and does not rule out the possibility that the incident be referred to law enforcement.

The district did not comment on what discipline is being employed against the student who committed the attack, only to say it’s being handled “according to district policy.”

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