Belleville suspends 7, 2 face possible charges, expulsion


BY MARIA BARAN AND JACQUELINE LEE
Excerpt from Belleville News-Democrat
Belleville, Illinois — A violent attack on a Belleville West school bus led to at least seven suspensions Tuesday as Belleville Police said they no longer believed the attacks were racially motivated.

“It’s not necessarily race-related,” Belleville Police Capt. Don Sax said of the attack caught on a school bus security camera that shows two black students punching and choking a white student Monday morning. “It’s just bullying and that’s where it is.”
The 14- and 15-year-old students seen attacking another student were suspended and face the possibility of expulsion and juvenile criminal charges. They were released to their parents.

One student, Steve Raines, is seen in the video preventing a third attack on the victim.
“He was getting beat and he wasn’t even defending himself, so I felt like I had to help stop it,” Steve said.

At least five students in addition to the attackers were suspended for their behavior on the bus, said one of those students, D’Vante Lott, 16, a junior. He said he and four other students called into the office at the same time were all suspended, he for five days beginning Wednesday. He said others on the bus were called in by administrators but he did not know their fates.

“I got five days’ suspension for laughing and getting out of my seat,” D’Vante said. “It’s messing up my education. I want to go to school. I feel like real mad because I wasn’t laughing at him because he was getting beat up. I was laughing because someone said something funny.

“They said I was crawling (out of my seat), I was looking for the kid’s glasses, to see if he’s all right. I wanted to help the kid, but then I would be in the fight, too, and then I would get suspended. I didn’t think you could get in trouble just for laughing.”

Principal Robert S. Dahm said school officials have talked to all students involved, but he declined to comment on the number of students that were disciplined. Full story.

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