Many Parents Remain Uneasy After Meeting to Discuss Recent Violence at Middle School in Moreno Valley

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Parents of Landmark Middle School students in Moreno Valley met with campus administrators Wednesday to discuss recent violence on campus that left a 13-year-old boy hospitalized in critical condition.

Hundreds of parents turned out, many saying they’ve been angry over the Moreno Valley Unified School District’s handling of bullying cases, and the incident that unfolded Monday afternoon was the tipping point.

Cellphone video shows a 13-year-old boy identified as Diego being punched before falling and apparently striking his head on a cement pillar. He’s then seen being punched again after falling to the ground.

Classmates say the victim had recently been bullied, including on social media.

Two other 13-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of assault likely to cause great bodily injury in connection with the attack, Riverside County sheriff’s officials said.

Student Crystal Rodriguez says violence is not a new problem on campus.

“It’s really tough because there’s so many fights here, and they don’t do anything about it,” Rodriguez said. “The security’s all over the school, but they take forever to come.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, participants filled out question cards and school personnel, along with sheriff’s deputies and school resource officers, tried to answer them.

Questions included, “Was the school aware Diego was being bullied? And if so, why did it fail to protect him?”

One law enforcement official said there were no red flags with the boys involved in the attack, and he believes they were actually honor students.

Many parents and grandparents were dissatisfied with officials’ answers.

“Now we have Diego in coma that may not make it,” said Alicia Espinoza, who identified herself as an activist. “So how much more do we have to put up with this district?”

Jorge Quintero said his daughter’s been bullied, and “they don’t do anything about it.”

“So we are very sad and very angry at the same time,” Quintero told KTLA.

School administrators say parents can fill out a “bully report form,” which is the first step to an investigation.

Crisis counselors are now on hand for students and staff, and anti-bullying, anti-violence banners hang across campus.

The district says it’s also hired additional behavioral specialists and is working with more mental health experts and services this year.

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