November 22, 2011 in City

Dad outraged over attack on daughter

Video of fight that sent teen to ER posted online
By The Spokesman-Review
Fear of bullying

Nearly 160,000 students stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being bullied, according to U.S. Department of Education estimates.

Kayla Novak, 15, was threatened, harassed and attacked by a classmate, and the Lewis and Clark High School student fears the bullying is far from over.

The teen returned to school Monday after a few days’ recovery. Within the first hour, Kayla was reportedly told she’d be beat up again.

“My daughter is scared,” said her father, Michael Novak. “This is not OK.”

Bullying has been in the headlines repeatedly during recent months. Within the last two weeks, a 10-year-old Illinois girl committed suicide a day after telling her mom she was being picked on at school. In September, a 14-year-old Buffalo boy who had blogged regularly about being bullied was found dead outside his home.

Kayla, a former Medical Lake High School student, was targeted by another teen girl because of an unfounded rumor that she’d told on a girl for smoking cigarettes, Michael Novak said. The bully first threatened Kayla physically via Facebook: “run ur mouth some more cuz after tommarrow u wont be talking for a while.”

The next day, a video online shows the same girl straddling Kayla, pummeling her with her fists.

Kayla spent several hours in a hospital emergency room following the Nov. 15 attack. She suffered several cuts and bruises and needed stitches for laceration above her lip. The accused bully was charged with fourth-degree assault and is expected to return to school today following a brief suspension.

Within hours of the fight, the attacker was asking for a video of the fight and bragging about what she’d done.

Kayla’s dad was outraged. “Where are my daughter’s rights? I’m frustrated with the let-it-go attitude,” he said of the school district’s initial reaction. “Going to the ER is not part of youth.”

After Novak sat down with school district officials, showed them a video of the fight and the Facebook posts from the attacker, they got more serious, he said.

If Kayla is attacked again by the same girl, there would be further discipline, said Vice Principal Dan Close.

Lewis and Clark Principal Shawn Jordan said he was appalled by what he saw. “It is not acceptable and does not reflect the kind of safe environment that we work so hard to create in our school. It’s a high priority for us to work with students to change behavior and keep them in school, but if the behavior continues, we go down a different road.”

You hear about bullying, Novak said. “But then it happened to my child.”

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