GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Authorities say an 11-year-old is facing charges in connection to an assault of a 5-year-old on a Northview Public Schools bus.
On Wednesday, Sgt. Eric Brunner with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office said the juvenile prosecutor reviewed the case and then charged the 11-year-old with assault and battery.
The assault happened on March 9. Jermon Burrell, the father of the kindergarten student, said his son was crying with a bruise on his head after he got off the school bus. As the incident happened, Burrell claimed some other students stood by and recorded as the 6th grader assaulted and suffocated his son, and the bus driver didn’t do enough to help his son.
The sheriff’s office said the 5-year-old sustained “minor injuries which did not require medical treatment.”
The boy’s father told News 8 he was content with the charges and hoped the other students involved in the bullying were disciplined. He wanted the school to do more to prevent the attack from happening.
Northview Public Schools Superintendent Scott Korpak released a statement Wednesday saying the district would change some rules to make sure students stay seated on the bus:
“At Northview Public Schools, the safety of our students is and always will be a primary concern. While we cannot share specific details, including information on those who were involved due to federal privacy laws governing student information, we can say that we continue to work alongside the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in its investigation on this matter. As we do whenever there is the need, our dedicated team of mental health professionals, and our community partners, are providing support to all involved. Specific to our Transportation Department, we recently completed a thorough review of our processes and protocols, which led to increasing measures to ensure that our youngest students remain seated at the front of the bus at all times.”
The school district decided after a “thorough review in collaboration with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office” that the bus driver would not face disciplinary action, the district said.
Brunner told News 8 that the bus driver would not be charged, “nor was a suspect at any point and time.”
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker could not comment on details of this specific case but explained juvenile cases are handled differently than when the suspects are adults.
“We can’t send the juvenile to jail, we can’t send a juvenile to prison. Very often it’s a probationary sentence. For the very serious cases, we send them to juvenile detention lockdown facility. Those can cost up to $400 a day,” Becker said.
There are also some differences in how the probation system is set up.
“For an adult you have a set term — two years probation, one years probation. A juvenile can be on probation until the court deems that juvenile has corrected the behavior,” Becker said.
Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young added that the juvenile system includes the parents in the process.
“When there’s been a criminal activity identified, they get referred over to juvenile court. There’s an assessment that’s done, an evaluation of what resources this child needs to help work through what he’s got going on and hopefully improve his behavior,” she said.