Video of assault on autistic student at LCMS circulates on social media; Read letter to suspended LCMS principal here
Published 10:05 am Tuesday, February 22, 2022
STANFORD – Annie Lowry knew her son had been involved in an altercation last October, but it wasn’t until last week that she saw a video of an assault on her son after it began to circulate on social media.
The video, which shows a Lincoln County Middle School student laughing before assaulting Lowry’s 14-year-old autistic son in a classroom, has been shared across social media and has resulted in a police investigation, as well as the suspension of the school’s principal.
Click here to read the school district’s letter to LCMS Principal Stacy Story
According to a press release from the Lincoln County School District, “School officials immediately opened an investigation with the Stanford Police Department after being made aware of the video.”
Lowry said the assault shown on the video occurred in October 2021 during her son’s last block of the day. It was not the first time he had been involved in a physical altercation during this school year, she said.
“The assistant principal has called me in each time there’s been a fight. One of the fights, (my son) got thrown down to the ground and his head hit the concrete and I had to take him to the ER to be checked for head trauma,” she said. “I thought I knew about this fight but I didn’t know there was a video of it.”
Lowry’s neighbor showed her the video.
“I just broke down. I didn’t know if it was one of the previous fights, if it was a new fight,” she said. “It’s not the same kid every time but it’s the same group of friends.”
The same group of kids has allegedly been sending Lowry harassing messages on Facebook since she spoke out about the video, she said.
One of the messages claims Lowry’s son was harassing their group of friends and they were retaliating.
“He (the suspect in the video) is laughing…it’s premeditated,” she said.
Lowry said the suspect has since sent her a message on social media apologizing for his actions.
In a statement, Superintendent Michael Rowe said when the video surfaced on social media it was the first time school leadership had seen the video or been made aware of the situation.
Lowry said she was called in to speak to Assistant Principal Tim Wheeler in October and was told her son had said something to a student about his deceased parent and was punched three times and did not punch the student back. In the video, Lowry’s son is punched three times and does not return any punches. There is no verbal altercation between the students prior to the assault in the video.
“I think it’s the same fight that I had already been called in about and I think the school was aware,” Lowry said.
Her son wasn’t punished because he did not partake in the assault, she said. She’s not sure if the suspect was punished at the time but he remained in the same classroom with her son following the incident.
Lowry said her son was diagnosed as autistic at the age of 7 and also suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He sees a psychiatrist regularly, she said.
“He has an IEP (special needs instructor) and he has a couple special classes but he’s mostly in the regular classes with the general population,” Lowry said. “And he’s still in a current class with the same child that hit him in the video.”
Now that the video has surfaced, a criminal investigation is underway.
“SPD has identified the victim and suspect, and will not release further details as all parties involved are juveniles and the investigation is still ongoing,” a statement from the school district reads.
Superintendent Rowe added, “The behavior that occurred in the video will not be tolerated in this school district. That is not acceptable behavior and it will be dealt with appropriately.”
According to an Open Records Request, as of Monday at 2 p.m. LCMS Principal Stacy Story has been suspended with pay.
A letter sent to Story from Superintendent Rowe was retrieved through the open records request.
“This suspension is being issued pending the results of an investigation into neglect of duty, incompetence, inefficiency, dishonesty and lack of institutional control,” the letter states.
According to the letter, an employee can be suspended with pay only when the Superintendent determines there is a “justifiable need for an investigation of alleged employee actions necessary to protect the safety of students and staff or to prevent significant disruption of the workplace and/or educational process.”
The suspension is intended to allow Lincoln County Schools to examine issues thoroughly and determine appropriate action, the letter states.
Lowry said her son has been out of school due to COVID and she doesn’t think she will be sending him back any time soon.
“I’m going to maybe finish out the school year with Lincoln virtually. I don’t know, I might go on to Boyle County,” she said.
She said she’s been assured that her son will have a support group of friends if he should return to LCMS.
Lowry said she is raising awareness about this incident because she doesn’t want it to happen to anyone else.
“I posted the video so it wouldn’t happen to someone else’s child,” she said. “My husband had to take my phone away. The way my child wailed out in pain, I absolutely just lost it.”
Phone calls to the suspect’s parental guardian were not returned by press time.