School chief calls NY hate crime incident on school bus ‘devastating’

Updated: Sep. 23, 2019 at 8:32 PM EDT
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GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. (WWNY) - The superintendent of the Gouverneur Central School District says a hate crime incident involving three students in her district is ‘devastating.’

Lauren French spoke with 7 News Monday night, after village police announced two Gouverneur Middle School students and a bus monitor face charges.

“It is probably the most professionally devastating event since I started working at Gouverneur in 1984,” French said.

Village police charged two girls, ages 10 and 11, with second-degree harassment. The 11 year old was additionally charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime.

Police received a complaint on September 10 from a parent, who reported her 10 year old daughter was on a school bus when she was beaten and subjected to racially motivated language.

Police said the girl, who is African American, suffered a black eye from being punched, lost hair due to her hair being pulled, and sustained a bruise to her knee after falling backward into the school bus seat from her hair being pulled.

According to police, the two girls, who are white, were responsible for the assault.

“How do we become better out of this? How do we treat everyone better?” French said. She said the district has “reached out to various resources we have access to, to provide additional training to our staff and additional training, support, recognition, conversation to our student body.”

A bus monitor, employed by First Student, the company which provides bus service to the Gouverneur district, allegedly witnessed the attack and made no effort to stop or prevent it.

Police charged the monitor, 28 year old Tiffany Spicer of 183 River Road, Edwards, with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Police said Spicer is white.

She was ticketed and ordered to appear in Gouverneur Town Court at a later date.

French said First Student has been asked to provide additional training to bus aides and monitors.

“I firmly believe we are better than this, and we have to take a stand,” French said.

The alleged attackers and their parents have been referred to St. Lawrence County Probation for further action. Their case will be handled in family court.

Police were unable to say if the alleged victim sought medical treatment for her injuries.

7 News reached out to First Student for comment. We’ll update this story if we hear from them.

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