Apparently, it’s nothing new for the Wichita Falls ISD middle school, as one McNiel mother knows all too well.
Jennifer McKee has a daughter in seventh grade at McNiel, and the video of Wednesday’s fight that went viral on social media brought back painful memories of a similar video she wishes she’d never seen.
“Watching that and just seeing her limp body and her legs just going back and forth as she’s just taking blows,” McKee said.
McKee’s daughter can be seen in the video above taking punches that eventually caused her to blackout, suffer bruises to the face, a concussion and knots on her forehead.
McKee said on March 3, 2022, her daughter told some girls that she was going to sit at a different table at lunch that day before her hair was pulled from behind, she was punched and then brought to the ground.
“How does a kid who has never been in trouble, never even had a conduct cut, get attacked for no reason?” McKee asked. “You see a fight and you think OK it’s two problem children that are fighting with each other, but that’s not the case, the case is it’s happening to anyone.”
The video of Wednesday’s assault of a McNiel teacher made the rounds on Facebook, eventually reaching the eyes of the superintendent of another local school district.
City View ISD Superintendent Tony Bushong said when he saw that fight that involved teachers this time, he felt for them.
“They’re fellow educators with us and we know they just want to go to work,” Bushong said. “They wanna go educate kids and then they get thrown into this mix, and it’s because, you know, there are kids out there that are out of control.”
“We’re talking about maybe 5 percent of students that ruin it for all the other students and I do believe that they need to be held more accountable and I believe our legislature needs to get behind us,” Bushong added.
Bushong said it all comes down to the parents, and in the past, parents had more motivation to care.
“The legislature has passed laws that, you know, several years ago, we were able to ticket the parents for the student’s behavior,” Bushong said. “It’s not that way anymore.”
“The educational system, there needs to be something done all the way around, once the kids start running the schools, we’re in trouble,” Bushong said.
After the initial shock wore off, McKee said her feelings turned into anger that only grew after talking to the WFISD Chief of Police Lahoma Vaughn.
McKee was told McNiel faculty intended to file an assault charge against the student on her daughter’s behalf.
“We never did get to see the paperwork,” McKee said. “We should be able to see that she was charged with assault, but I was given the answer, ‘well she was arrested wasn’t she’ and I thought, ‘well, that’s not telling me anything’.”
McKee’s daughter now has anxiety attacks and even nightmares. She said she’s afraid to even stand in her own front lawn.
The fear only grew when McKee found out the other student involved in the altercation would be returning to school.
“She was getting the same via social media threats from her friends that she’s gonna get you, she’s gonna finish what she started,” McKee said.
McKee said she was never told her daughter’s assailant would be returning to school.
“We were told she would not be back for the rest of the semester, surprise, here she is, no notification,” McKee said.
She said school officials could’ve at least notified her so she could’ve prepared her daughter.
“What if I had dropped her off that morning and that girl decided to finish what she started?” McKee lamented.
She said she just wants some accountability for not only the ones starting it but those standing by.
“They’re behind the camera, filming it or cheering it on and they’re not thinking there’s somebody really getting hurt there,” McKee said.
Bushong said the education system is a team effort.
“It’s not just superintendents and principals, it has to be community, parents, school board, they have to get behind that and say we’re done with this,” Bushong said.
McKee said she’s now fighting back and pursuing legal action. However, she hasn’t been able to find a lawyer in town willing to take the case
“We want change, period, we’re not going to settle until there is change,” McKee said.
McKee said she has one piece of advice for parents who may have the displeasure of experiencing what she had to go through when her daughter was attacked: go to the Wichita Falls Police Department directly, not the school district’s police.
The Wichita Falls Independent School District administration declined our request for comment, as did WFISD School Board President Mike Rucker.
The only comment from the district thus far came from McNiel Middle School Principal Jennifer Bynum, who released a statement to parents of McNiel students.