Caledonia family says district didn’t address alleged assault

CALEDONIA, Mich. (AP) — A West Michigan family says a school district didn’t properly respond to an alleged physical assault of a 14 year old girl who sought hugs from fellow students on National Hug Day.

Duncan Lake Middle School student Adrien Mahoney was seeking hugs from fellow students for National Hug Day on Aug. 31, according to a sheriff’s report filed by Caledonia School Resource Officer Patrick Frederick. Mahoney asked a male student for a hug at a high school football game. She said he knocked her to the ground and struck her multiple times. Mahoney allegedly suffered a black eye.

The boy said he was uncomfortable when an unknown person, who he believed was male, approached him with outstretched arms without saying anything.

Mahoney is a female, but wears clothing and has a haircut that’s typically associated with males, which the family believes may be a factor in the Caledonia Community School District’s inaction.

School officials never informed the Mahoney family if the student was disciplined; just that they were looking into the matter, said Christine Yared, the family’s attorney.

“This is about school safety for the individual student,” Yared said. “When something happens, students need to know they are going to be listened to, the case investigated and consequences.”

Students should receive a minimum two-day suspension for assault, according to the district’s student handbook

The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office received a juvenile delinquency petition for charges of assault and battery against the male student in February, but declined to press charges, said Kent County Undersheriff Michelle Young. Simple assaults between middle school students are rarely handled by the criminal justice process, she said. Disciplinary measures are typically handled by the school district.

District officials said they can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.

“I believe the appropriate steps were taken,” said Dirk Weeldreyer, interim superintendent. “It certainly hurts us whenever there is someone who feels they are being unfairly targeted or whatever and so it’s something we take very seriously and we will continue to look into.”

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