BERLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — An 18-year-old student with special needs was beaten up at Jefferson High School in Newport after being bullied earlier in the day, according to family.
Parents Abby and Steven Czerwonka say the school district failed in protecting their son, Brian. Brian has trouble in school with focus and learning, but the senior was looking forward to finishing out his senior year strong before the fight.
According to the parents, the incident began Dec. 4. In second period, their son was working on an assignment when a female student came up to him and allegedly wrote homophobic slurs on his laptop with a pencil and spilled a drink on him in the process.
“Told her knock it off and then I pushed her hand away," Brian Czerwonka said.
The family says rumors started to spread that Brian hit the girl and some male students started making plans to attack him. Students were aware a fight was going to happen and had their phones ready when the boys approached during a passing period later in the day.
“It makes me want to puke as a parent because... the youth have no sense of direction or empathy," Abby Czerwonka said.
A male student attacked Brian Czerwonka first and punched him in the face. Brian Czerwonka fought back after a couple hits and was tackled to the ground by another student a few seconds into the fight. He was frightened of the entire ordeal and hid in a bathroom for over a half hour after.
He claims no educators attended to his wounds or called his parents.
“He’s in a situation where he’s depressed, and who knows what’s going on in the bathroom? I didn’t agree with anything that (the school) did," Steven Czerwonka said.
The family says they only found out their son was involved in a fight after Brian Czerwonka texted his mom asking to be picked up. A school officially told Abby Czerwonka about the fight once she arrived and said there would be repercussions for all involved.
After seeing the video, Abby Czerwonka says Brian was only defending himself after being attacked and bullied earlier in the day.
"After getting hit not once, gets hit twice, and he still sets his laptop on the ground and backs away like dude, let's talk," Abby Czerwonka said. "He’s still trying to talk it out.”
Brian Czerwonka required medical attention and five stitches for his lip. But the trauma he experienced is what taking the longest to heal.
”I was more kind of in shock," he said.
According to the family, Brian Czerwonka was suspended for three days. The student seen attacking him on video is still suspended and another student was given an in-school suspension. Abby Czerwonka believes more should’ve been done by the school with preventing bullying and violence.
“The whole way that everything was handled just was completely poor," she said. “We asked (school officials) when was the last time you had any kind of anti-bullying awareness week, campaign, rally, assembly of any kind, and they’re all just kind of…. they haven’t.”
7 Action News reached out to the Jefferson School District, which in a statement said:
"State and federal student privacy laws prohibit the District from commenting publicly on specific student discipline or student misconduct without parental consent. Jefferson Schools has policies and procedures in place to investigate and address any allegations of misconduct, issue discipline, and refer matters to and cooperate with law enforcement when appropriate and permitted by law. Those policies and procedures were followed here."
On the district website, there is an anti-bullying policy that specifically states the school prohibits acts of harassment or bullying. The family says that policy was not enacted last week, leading to the fight.
“We would like to see changes so that other kids don’t have to go through the situation that he went through," Steven Czerwonka said.
Brian Czerwonka is healing and has returned to school but says this is not how he imagined finishing up senior year. The family has pressed charges against the student who threw the first punch and is currently seeking legal representation.