Parents file suit over Rush County middle school beating
A violent attack on a student has parents blaming the school and asking for hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical bills. The beating, which occurred at Benjamin Rush Middle School in Rushville, was caught on surveillance cameras.
The cuts and bruises that covered 13-year-old Austin McDaniel have started to fade, but he hasn't forgotten how he got them.
"Makes you watch your back a lot. Makes you more aware of your surroundings," said McDaniel.
On September 15, the eighth grader was beaten by another student and the whole thing was captured on camera.
"This was more than a fight. This was bullying on steroids," said attorney Ron Frazier, who is representing Austin and his family.
In the video, McDaniel can be seen walking to his locker when a 15-year-old student attacked him from behind. The student knocked Austin to the ground and repeatedly punched him. Just as McDaniel attempts to walk away, he is knocked to the ground and punched repeatedly for a second time.
Austin said he knew the student, but never saw a fight coming.
"We were never mean to each other, we never had any words that were rude," said McDaniel.
Nicole McDaniel said it's difficult watching the video and disheartening that no one came to her son's aid, despite the fact that the attack happened less than 50 feet from the front office.
"You watch the video and not one teacher steps in. Not one teacher even comes in to help him up off the floor," she said.
Nicole McDaniel says it was more than an hour before she was notified. The 15-year-old was arrested and has not returned to school.
However, McDaniel says the school administration failed to handle the situation properly, forcing them to take legal action.
"This is more than boys being boys. This is criminal. This shouldn't happen in school," said Frazier.
Yet two weeks later it happened again, this time to one of Austin's friends, Logan Thompson. Thompson says a friend of the student who beat McDaniel attacked him. He calls it retaliation.
"He knocked me out, like unconscious. My face hit the cement floor," said Thompson.
His mother, Misty Thompson, says she convinced her husband to raise their children in Rush County because it was a safe small town. Now she fears for her child's safety. She says it is sad that legal action is necessary, but hopes it serves as a wake up call that bullying can't be tolerated in any form.
"To the teacher who helped him up, I'm truly appreciative. To the teachers who don't come out of their classrooms in those between periods and lunch, shame on you," said Thompson.
Rush County Schools Superintendent Dr. John Williams issued a statement about the incident.
"Students and staff in the Rush County Schools attend classes in a safe environment. What has occurred is an isolated incident that has been dealt with using the framework of our policies and state law and certainly is not typical of the behavior of our students," he wrote.