FLORIDA (NBC News) – A boy was beaten up as his fellow middle school students in Florida watched and videotaped the incident, police and school officials said.
The student who appears to strike the victim in the video is under investigation for simple battery, said Capt. Steven Pacheco of the Lakeland Police Department. He also was suspended for 10 days, said Jacqueline Byrd, superintendent of Polk County Public Schools.
Others seen holding the victim and the students who videotaped the incident also face school discipline, Byrd said. Byrd said at a Friday news conference that a teacher who should have have had an eye on the students is under administrative investigation.
“That’s a very good question, where was the teacher?” she said.
The Tuesday beating at Blake Academy, a public middle school in Lakeland, Florida, drew widespread attention after a woman who identified herself as the victim’s mother posted video of the assault on Facebook. The video logged more than 6,000 views before it was taken down, according to NBC News affiliate WFLA in Tampa, Florida.
Lauren Springfield criticized what she said was a lack of response by school administrators because her child is African-American and the alleged perpetrator is white.
Byrd did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But she was asked at the news conference Friday whether she believed the attack was racially motivated.
“I can’t say if I think race was involved,” Byrd said. “It shouldn’t happen to any kid.”
Springfield asked why the three-minute attack could occur without any teachers apparently intervening.
“What is our world coming to?” Springfield said in her Wednesday Facebook post.
“I have asked the school administrators what will happen to the other children involved,” she wrote. “Would you like to know their response? We can’t tell you!”
Byrd said at the news conference that she spoke to the victim’s mother.
“I’ve spoken to mom and that’s why we’re here together,” she said. “These things should not be happening on our campus.”
It’s unclear what preceded the video, but Pacheco said the attack started after words were exchanged between boys in the locker room. The video Springfield posted shows two other boys holding the victim as another assaults him.
“I can guarantee you had this been a group of black students on a lone white student, we would be having a completely different conversation,” Springfield said. “I am disheartened, I am tired, scared for my son and completely enraged.”