Less than three weeks after a 13-year-old boy was fatally attacked at a Moreno Valley campus, school officials on Thursday said they're investigating an on-campus fight at another middle school within the district.
The most recent incident happened Wednesday at Sunnymead Middle School, about six miles away from the school attended by two 13-year-old students now facing voluntary manslaughter charges in the death of Diego Stolz, whose assault on Sept. 16 was recorded on video. He was pronounced dead at the hospital eight days later.
No student suffered any injuries in the altercation at Sunnymead Middle School, according to the Moreno Valley Unified School District.
Spokeswoman Anahi Velasco said the district is cooperating with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's investigation of the incident, which was also captured on camera and surfaced on social media.
The footage shows at least two girls throwing punches at each other inside a classroom. Soon, they're surrounded by more students as a staffer apparently tries to break up the fight.
"Our teacher followed protocol of intervening to stop the incident when it was safe to do so and she called for help," Velasco said in a statement. "A campus security officer and an administrator responded in addition to a school resource officer."
A student involved in that altercation told KTLA that two of her former friends attacked her. She now wants to transfer to another school.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department said two 12-year-old girls were involved, one of them suffering injuries that did not require hospitalization while the other was "determined to be the aggressor" and was expected to face charges, The Press-Enterprise reported. The girl who instigated the fight was not arrested, according to the paper.
Eighth-grader Thanairy Miranda said she saw a group of girls walk into the classroom “ready to fight."
Wednesday's incident is one of many that's been recorded and posted on social media, a group of parents told KTLA. Students at Sunnymead Middle School said fights happen all the time.
Melissa Garcia said her niece Laura was "jumped" by another student in August. The girl was hospitalized with neck spasms and a swollen head, her mother said. School officials initially suspended Laura until they saw video of the ordeal, according to her family.
“Something needs to be done… We don’t need another Diego," Garcia said.
Another student's mother, Yvonne Villegas, expressed deep concern for her child's safety.
“I’ve actually considered filing bankruptcy to quit my job, so I could homeschool my daughter or be home with her because I’m afraid that I’ll be too far away and I won’t be able to answer her calls for help," Villegas told KTLA.
Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora expressed anger and frustration at the widening violence scandal during a Thursday afternoon news briefing, telling the district community “we are better than this.”
“I want the Moreno Valley community to hear me loud and hear my clear when I say that what I’ve seen and what we’ve all seen in those videos is absolutely unacceptable,” Kedziora said. “I want to assure you that the images and the videos you are seeing are not true representatives of the Moreno Valley Unified School District.”
Kedziora also suggested that the increasing visibility of the incidents could be tied to social media.
“It pains me that social media is being used to humiliate, denigrate and flat-out attack our students just to go viral or to elevate their own social media status,” he said.
Kedziora added that the district has “solid” anti-bullying policies in place, but engages in constant reassessment and is currently taking a hard look at what can be done.
Villegas said she disagrees with a law recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom banning schools from suspending students for disruptive behavior.
“More children are going to suffer," Villegas said.
Correction: A previous headline incorrectly indicated when Diego Stolz died. This post has been updated.