Teen says he was bloodied, bruised in attack on school bus
"I look over my shoulder all the time."
Those are the words of a teenager who goes to Southport High School. He didn't want us to show his face or use his name.
"I'm terrified. I don't want to be hurt," he said.
He said he was afraid of retaliation for speaking out after he said students on the bus ride home taunted him for being openly gay. He says one of them attacked him.
"As we neared my stop, they talked about trying to get off the bus with me and hurt me," he said.
According to the student, when he tried to get off the bus, one of the students blocked him in the aisle and wouldn't let him pass.
"I tried to just push him away so that I could get in front of him," he told us.
"He yelled out, 'Oh hell no!' and grabbed me by the backpack, pulled me back, put me in a choke hold, put me in a seat, punched me three times in the face and then pulled me into the seat and put me into a choke hold," said the teen.
"I couldn't breathe at all. I was terrified," he added. "Everyone around me was just watching. No one was helping."
According to the student, a female student finally broke it up, but that the bus driver then sent him, that female student and his attacker off the bus, together.
"I don't understand. He's still kicked off the bus. He's the victim. Why is he kicked off the bus when we have proof he's hurt," asked Sunshyne Reffett, the student's mother.
Photographic proof, the mother said, pictures she took when her son got home. They showed the student with a swollen lip and bruises on his neck.
"He had blood all over his face from where he busted his lip. He had swelling to the neck," said Reffett, who added she took her son to the hospital and then filed a police report.
Reffett also said she called the Perry Township school's transportation department to report what happened and ask for a videotape of activity on the bus.
"Before I even told him what bus it was, my son's name, my name, anything, they said there's no tape," Reffett said.
In a statement to Eyewitness News, the district said:
"The safety of children is the number one priority in Perry Township Schools. When students are being transported on school buses in the district, school rules still apply to students and they are subject to disciplinary measures for misconduct.
On the afternoon of August 15, 2013, intense verbal exchanges were made between two Southport High School students on a school bus which escalated into a physical altercation. The district takes all physical exchanges seriously. A thorough investigation was conducted. Both students received a suspension from the bus. In addition, a police report has been filed.
There is no video available of the incident as the video camera on the bus was inoperable at the time. The video equipment has since been serviced and is fully functioning again. Perry Township Schools also respects the protection of student identities and videos are considered student records.
The district's transportation department has made bus assignment changes and now the students are riding different buses. School officials have been in close, frequent communication with the parents of these students.
Now and always, we take incidents such as these seriously. This type of student behavior will not be tolerated. "
Reffett told Eyewitness News the new bus assignment for her son doesn't start until next Monday, so her son's been getting a ride to school.
"I'm terrified for him," she said.
Her son said nothing more has happened to the student who allegedly attacked him. He said he doesn't understand why.
"If no one's punished whenever they actually do something, like this, they ensue violence, nothings going to change," the teen said.