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October 20, 2014

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O’Callaghan Middle School fight not to blame for student’s hospitalization, CCSD Police conclude

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Steve Marcus

Clark County School District Police Capt. Ken Young responds to questions as Lt. Darnell Couthen, left, looks on during a news conference at CCSD police headquarters in Henderson Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Police called the news conference to discuss a fight that occurred at O’Callaghan Middle School last Wednesday.

Updated Tuesday, April 8, 2014 | 4:02 p.m.

CCSD Police News Conference on Fight

Clark County School District Police Capt. Ken Young responds to questions during a news conference at CCSD police headquarters in Henderson Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Police called the news conference to discuss a fight that occurred at O'Callaghan Middle School last Wednesday. Launch slideshow »

O'Callaghan Middle School

A medical emergency, not a schoolyard beating, is to blame for landing an O’Callaghan Middle School student in the hospital last week, according to Clark County School District Police.

“There was a punch. There was a push. But nobody was kicked or beaten about the head,” Capt. Ken Young, CCSD Police spokesman, said in a news conference today. “(The girl) fell as a result of a medical emergency.”

Young said a fight broke out between two seventh-graders at the eastern valley middle school shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

A 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old girl exchanged several shoves and punches, Young said. The fight lasted less than a minute before campus security monitors broke up the scuffle, he said.

The 13-year-old girl fell as a result of a medical emergency and was sent to UMC, where she remains under doctors’ care, Young said, declining to elaborate further on the girl's medical condition citing patient privacy issues. Contrary to widespread media reports based on student accounts, there were no major injuries to either girl, he said.

“The girl was not stomped on, bludgeoned or beaten,” Young said.

Young described the two girls as “mutual combatants” in the fight. He dismissed speculation that the fight precipitated from bullying, which is defined as a sustained physical and/or verbal abuse between two unequal parties where one has power over the other.

“This was not an ongoing bullying situation,” Young said. “This was a matter of two students with an ongoing strained relationship.”

Both students have been suspended from school, and both could face criminal charges and/or school disciplinary action, including expulsion, Young said. CCSD Police are working with Metro Police and the Clark County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether further action is warranted against the girls, one of whom recently transferred to O'Callaghan.

Young said officers from CCSD and Metro spoke to more than a dozen students, staff and teachers who witnessed the fight, which occurred during a nutrition break, or shortened lunch period. The fight occurred in a “blind spot” at the school quad and was not captured on security cameras.

The lack of video footage has allowed differing accounts of the fight to proliferate. Media interviews of students described a more violent and prolonged fight. Relatives of the injured girl told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week that they believe the 13-year-old was bullied and that school officials knew about it.

Young said officers interviewed all the people quoted in media reports last week. They found that most student eyewitnesses were third-party to the fight, he said.

"A lot of them were at a distance when a lot of it happened," Young said after the press conference. "What we said today is what happened. We're not going to get into a back-and-forth with your readers."

CCSD Police have noticed a slight increase in fights between students this year. This particular fight was a “very rare occasion” where a student experienced a medical emergency and was transported to the hospital, Young added.

To combat gang activity and fights, CCSD Police launched a pilot program earlier this year, placing school police officers at 10 middle schools. O’Callaghan is not one of the schools in the program, but it is served by a school police officer shared among several campuses, Young said.

CCSD Police have increased their presence on O'Callaghan's campus this week as a result of the investigation, Young said. He urged parents to talk to students about safe ways to prevent or de-escalate a potential fight.

“If you see a fight, go get some help,” he said. “Don’t be a spectator.”

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