RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/Gray News) – A teen is facing charges after being accused of lighting a 13-year-old student’s hair on fire in the middle of class.
According to WWBT, the boy’s mother, who did not want to be named, said her son is at VCU Medical Center suffering from second- and third-degree burns.
She received a call from an administrator at John Rolfe Middle School shortly after he was burned.
“He had long, curly, just a nice head of hair, it was beautiful,” his mother said. “All I could hear the teacher say over the phone was something is happening with my son.”
According to police, a school resource officer was able to assist the teen until fire officials arrived to take him to the hospital.
His mother said she was told the school was on lockdown due to COVID-19 contact tracing, so her son’s math class was having lunch inside the classroom.
She says her son went to throw away his tray when another student approached him from behind with a lighter.
“That’s when the girl kind of flicked the lighter and lit his hair on fire,” the mother said.
She explained the hair that once went past the 13-year-old’s shoulders is now burned to his scalp.
His mother said the side of his head, ear and parts of his neck are scarred and blistered with burns.
“He was hysterical; he looked scared,” she said. “His pride emotionally and mentally is broken.”
But she says what broke her most was the middle school’s response. She says the school initially downplayed the incident and didn’t want to press charges on the student.
“What if this was your child, what would you be? Would you be livid would you be devastated how would you feel?” the mother asked. “Would you feel supported by Henrico County Schools?”
John Rolfe’s principal sent the following statement to parents and students following the incident:
“This is Ms. George, principal of John Rolfe Middle School. I’m calling to let you know about an incident that took place in your child’s science class today. A student was burned by a classmate who was playing with a lighter. The injured student was taken to the hospital and is receiving treatment. Here at school, we are reviewing the incident to ensure something like this does not happen again and taking appropriate disciplinary action as necessary. Thank you.”
Despite the statement, the victim’s mother says the middle school’s response doesn’t do enough to address her son’s trauma.
“You can’t just brush this under the rug and think that it’s going to just go away, it’s not,” the mother said. “My son is severely hurt. He’s suffering and it’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to him so y’all just need to be held accountable.”
Thursday, the Henrico Fire Marshal’s Office charged a teen with unlawful wounding. The matter will be heard in juvenile and domestic court.
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