Parent, student concerned over school fighting policy

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A mid-Michigan mother says she’s scared to send her daughter to school after a fight broke out between her and another student.

The fight took place yesterday when a student at a middle school in East Lansing says another girl approached her and began hitting her.

12-year-old Tavyea Rucker-Muhammad is a 7th grader at MacDonald Middle School. She says she’s constantly being bullied by other students physically.

Her mother says it’s important that her daughter stands up for herself, but she doesn’t like how the district is suspending Tayvea for doing so.

Cell phone video shows two students fighting in the middle of a classroom. One of them is Tavyea, and she says she was just defending herself.

“She pushed me, so it makes me feel worried and nervous and kind of mad,” said Tavyea Rucker-Muhammad.

Rucker-Muhammad says the fight started when another student accused her of knocking down her class project on purpose, but Tavyea says it was just an accident.

Her mother, Lesley Rucker, is upset that the two girls fought for so long and an adult took a while to break it up.

“There’s no teacher in this video, no adult is breaking up this fight, children are recording it, he’s like, ‘Well she was there, but she was afraid,’ well you know, what are these kids supposed to do?,” said Rucker.

6 News spoke to the district superintendent who says:

“East Lansing Public Schools’ administrators fully investigate physical altercations between students and then determine appropriate consequences.”

According to Rucker, both Tavyea and the other student got suspended for a half day.

The district’s website states: “The board shall suspend or expel a student in grade 6 or above if the student commits a physical assault.”

It didn’t specify a difference between if the student started the fight or not, and Rucker says, that’s wrong.

“She’s being suspended for defending herself and when I asked them about it, it’s self-defense, he’s like, ‘There’s a line between self-defense and fighting back,’ which I’m confused, what is self-defense other than fighting back?,” said Rucker.

While the district wouldn’t comment on this case specifically because of privacy concerns, they did say they are intentional in using restorative practices when appropriate as an alternative to other consequences.

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