Mother alleges kid was second victim of bullying
Waiakea parent details assault
STORY SUMMARY »
The mother of a Caucasian student at Waiakea Intermediate School alleges that there were racial overtones to an attack on her daughter that left the girl with a broken arm.
The incident occurred about two months before another attack on Nov. 15 in which a student's head was slammed into a wall four times by an attacker who called the girl a "f-- haole."
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported yesterday that the FBI has been called in to look into whether the Nov. 15 incident qualifies as a hate crime.
The newspaper quotes Tony Lang, the chief division counsel for the FBI in Honolulu who said the agency is gathering police reports and interviews.
School officials say they do not believe the attacks were racially motivated.
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HILO » Eight weeks before Waiakea Intermediate School student Evelyn Higgins' head was cut open by a girl attacking her at the school, Heather Chase's arm was broken at the same school by a different attacker, said Chase's mother, Corey Paglinawan.
In Higgins' case on Nov. 15, made public recently, the attacker allegedly called her a "f-- haole" before allegedly slamming her head against a wall four times.
In the Sept. 21 attack on Chase, who also is Caucasian, there was no racial slur at the time, but she was repeatedly called "f-- haole" and other names before and after the attack, her mother said.
Paglinawan said Chase, 12, was standing outdoors on a Friday after school when a girl came running down a hill at her. At the last minute, the girl shouted something like "watch out" or "move" and then hit Chase, knocking her to the ground, breaking her arm in the process.
The girl who hit her said, "Oh, it was an accident. I didn't mean it," Paglinawan said.
Chase went to the office where officials wrapped her arm with magazines and secured them with tape before Paglinawan took her daughter to the hospital.
The next Monday, the girl who hit Chase said, "So, what? Are you going to press charges?"
Paglinawan named the girl, the same girl who allegedly started an escalating series of insults that led to another girl attacking Higgins.
After Chase's arm healed, in a separate incident, another girl pushed her down into muddy ground, Paglinawan said. Like the previous one, the attacker said, "Sorry. I didn't mean to do it."
Paglinawan said she had a hard time getting the school even to talk to her. "The schools don't want to make this public," she said. They say, "'We're investigating,' but nothing happens," she said.
In the case of the attack on Higgins, 12, an investigation headed by Waiakea Principal Maureen Duffy decided the attack was not racially motivated, said East Hawaii Complex Area Superintendent Valerie Takata.
In the attack on Chase, the girl herself said the attack was not racial, Takata said. But Chase denied saying that, saying instead that no racial comment was made at the moment of the attack. There were a lot of racial comments before and after the attack, her mother said.
Yet Paglinawan noted that the girl who attacked Higgins remains a friend of Chase. Higgins was friends with her attacker, and with that girl's friends, for three months before things went bad, she said.
Both sets of parents say the problems are coming from the children's homes.
"It translates to the family," Paglinawan said.
Higgins' stepmother, Julia Stapp, said, "Kids are not born prejudiced. They learn it, and they're learning it at home."
Takata said the schools have programs for parents, but participation is voluntary.
The schools have an anti-bullying program, but she didn't know whether that has any references to racial problems.
The East Hawaii school complex has a consultant instructing school officials about racial problems, but Waiakea has chosen not to participate, Takata said.
Paglinawan said Principal Duffy was helpful with Paglinawan's older daughter, who has medical problems.
"I've always been extremely pleased with Maureen Duffy. They just don't know how to handle bullying," she said.