ALBANY, N.Y. (WWNY) - Governor Andrew Cuomo is weighing in on the alleged hate crime on a Gouverneur school bus.
"I am appalled by the reports of the horrendous, 20-minute racist assault on a 10-year-old African American girl in the town of Gouverneur. That this was allegedly perpetrated by her own classmates, on a school bus with an adult monitor present, makes this incident even more shocking and troubling. When we put our children on the bus to school, we are entrusting others with our most precious resource and this was an egregious and inexcusable violation of that trust," Cuomo said in a news release.
In statement Wednesday, the governor went on to say that he’s directing the New York State Division of Human Rights to investigate the incident “and, if applicable, to take legal action to the fullest extent of the law against the perpetrators.”
Earlier this week, Gouverneur 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.
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.
Gouverneur school superintendent Lauren French called the incident devastating and says First Student has been asked to provide additional training to bus aides and monitors.
French says the district is also taking action.
“We’ve 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,” she said.
Cuomo is also directing the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to provide local authorities with any resources needed to assist in their investigation.
“In New York, violence of any kind towards others based on their race or religion is not only offensive and repugnant to our values, it is illegal. We will never allow hate to win - we will defeat it and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to help ensure all our children are safe from hate,” said Cuomo.