5 teens charged in York Region high school brawl, days after students warned administration of threats
Posted January 29, 2024 11:45 am.
Last Updated January 30, 2024 9:10 am.
Students at a York Region high school say administrators failed to protect them after they reported receiving threats weeks and hours before a hallway brawl. Five teenagers have since been charged with assault.
Two female students, who CityNews is not naming to protect their identity, say they have felt scared attending school after they were receiving threats by a group of teens.
CityNews obtained cellphone footage showing part of the brawl inside Tommy Douglas Secondary School last Monday. Three teens tell CityNews, they, along with friends, were confronted in the hallways by a group of students who told them they wanted to fight.
Moments later, shoving and punching gets underway. A girl in pink pants is shown getting thrown to the ground and kicked in the head several times.
“Just devastating honestly. I don’t even know the girls. And I especially don’t even know the girl that stomped on me. Why come at me for no reason. She just came at me for no reason,” said the 16-year-old student, who spoke with CityNews anonymously.
She was left with several injuries from the brawl. “I have bruises around my face a bit. My neck’s hurting. My head’s hurting a bit too, it’s constant headaches [in the] back of my head. I can’t really sleep because there’s bruises on the back of my head. And even my ribcage because she kicked me in my ribcage area.”
The entire incident was caught on camera by several students and the footage has since been spreading online. The teen tells CityNews, she and two of her friends had gone to the school administration several times about the group threatening them with violence, including moments before Monday’s fight.
The teens themselves called for an ambulance and police following the fight. York Regional Police say four 14-year-olds and one 15-year-old are facing a charge of assault in connection with the incident that occurred on Monday. The families of the teens who spoke with CityNews confirm they were told by police it was related to the fight.
“They were constantly harassing my friends, we just already knew they’re not going to stop until they just get something out of it,” the teen added.
It’s the second time the police have been called to the school in the last week.
And it’s been weeks that the student’s friend, a 17-year-old who started at the school this year, has said she’s faced a barrage of threats by the same group of female students who wanted to fight on Monday. She said she went to the school administration at least five times since the school year, and nothing was done about it.
“I’ve been constantly going to them telling them I basically gave up on the school because there was no point to even go and tell them when they weren’t helping me. Every single time I go to them, it just makes the situation worse,” said the student. “They told me just ignore it like if they don’t see a reaction out of you.”
The threats culminated in an incident that happened four days prior to Monday’s fight.
The two girls say they were followed into the bathroom by the group of girls they allege had been threatening them. The 17-year-old student said she and her friends hid in the washroom stall.
“She started kicking down the door, trying to keep the door open. She was like, ‘Come out. We just want to talk’,” said the student. “There was 10 girls and the girl kept on trying to kick down the door … She was like, ‘If you don’t get out right now. I’m going to come in there.’ And she kicked down the door and the lock broke onto my head.”
Once she got home, she was still dealing with the effects of being hit by the lock.
“I came home and I was nauseous and, I threw up, and then I went to sleep because like I was so tired and dizzy. And I wasn’t really waking up. My mom had to call the ambulance for me. And she took me to the ER.”
She provided a note from the hospital to CityNews, which confirmed doctors had diagnosed her with a concussion. The family filed a police report. York police say they are still investigating an incident at the school and can’t provide any further comment.
The incident occurred on the same day a 15-year-old was struck by a vehicle and passed away. He was a friend of theirs. She said the other students were laughing at their grief.
“She was devastated. She was crying and like, she couldn’t even like stand up. They they saw her and started laughing and recording her and they made fun of the student.”
The 17-year-old tells CityNews the lack of action by the school on Thursday and prior incidents to is what led to the incident on Monday. Police also tell CityNews, there was a report of uttering threats late last year, no charges were laid in that case.
The school sent a letter home to students regarding the Monday’s incident on Thursday, four days after the fight and just hours after CityNews reached out to the school’s principal and vice-principals for comment.
It stated that staff intervened in the incident and York police were contacted and are investigating.
The students involved tell CityNews, staff did not intervene, and they were the ones who had to call police and an ambulance. Cellphone footage of the brawl shows at least two adults telling students to stop.
CityNews reached out to the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) along with the Principal and Vice-Principals, but only the YRDSB provided a written email response.
The school board did not respond to questions regarding the concerns reported to the school by students and a parent prior to Monday’s fight.
“While privacy laws prohibit us from discussing the specifics of cases, we can confirm that in all such allegations at Tommy Douglas Secondary School, the school has applied appropriate discipline and engaged with both the board’s social work and psychology team for support and the board’s Caring and Safe Schools department,” a YRDSB spokesperson said. “YRP was also contacted and has engaged in an investigation.”
CityNews asked the YRDSB if the students who are accused of starting the fights and making threats were still attending the school, however no response was provided.
The girls say the administration’s response is not enough.
“What would made me feel safe is not only suspending them, [but] bringing all of their parents in talking to them and telling them how they need to take control of their daughters. Because this isn’t something normal that a child would do,” said the female student.
The families of the two students also tried to speak with school administrators. The mother of the girl who got kicked in the head repeatedly, says she called the school twice on that Monday morning before the fight, but only received a call back when the administration called to say her daughter was being taken to hospital.
“I’m very disappointed in the school’s policy or behavior of not reacting in a timely fashion to see what’s going on. Or to properly investigate in a timely fashion … I think the school has a hell of a responsibility to protect children, all of them,” said the girl’s father in an interview with CityNews.
Both girls say they will not be returning to school at least until the next semester which begins on Feb. 6.