Georgia Mom Says School to Blame After Her Daughter Is Stabbed 14 Times
A Georgia middle school student was stabbed 14 times on her way to gym class by another classmate in March. Last week, the child's mother sued school administrators, alleging that they knew the child posed a danger to classmates, but that they did nothing to stop the threat.
Ashley Wilson’s daughter attended Ola Middle School in McDonough, Georgia, when a then-eighth grader attacked her child with what has been described as a knife. Wilson's daughter sustained cuts throughout her body including her face, neck, back, and chest.
Wilson says in the lawsuit that on March 14, a day before the stabbing, a school resource officer was alerted that the female suspect had a knife while on school grounds and was making threats to use the knife against her classmates. Despite this knowledge, school officials did not take the proper precautions to stop the female assailant from harming her classmates. Wilson alleges that administrators did not investigate the female suspect or take the appropriate response as outlined in the school's policy. The following day, the female suspect followed through on her threats after she attacked Wilson's daughter.
The family's lawsuit says they don’t believe their daughter was the intended target the female suspect made threats against the day prior. Despite this, while Wilson's daughter was making her way to gym class, the female suspect began harassing her before her stabbing rampage. The lawsuit details that the female suspect began verbally harassing Wilson's daughter despite the teenage victim telling her attacker to leave her alone “several times.”
The lawsuit details that during this period of harassment, a teacher had witnessed the harassment but did not take the necessary precautions to defuse the situation. The lawsuit argues that "the teachers who witnessed the bullying failed to keep safe while on school property."
As Wilson's daughter entered the gymnasium, the female suspect began her violent assault while other students filmed the ordeal.
After the attack, the school shared on its website, "The object has since been confiscated by school administrators and law enforcement officials and the student is now in the custody of law enforcement facing pending charges."
Wilson shared with local news outlet FOX 5, "My child was attacked because they weren’t able to do what they were supposed to do. I want justice for my daughter, but I also want them to be held accountable so that this doesn’t happen to anybody else’s kid."
The family is represented by attorney Andrew Gould. Gould shares that "Of course, the administrators knew the knife was on campus and did nothing. And then the knife was brought back on the 15th to be used against friend. And again, the administrators knew about it, did nothing."
The family also took issue with how school officials handled the situation, including its official response following the stabbing. Gould explains, "The administrators did nothing … no investigation, no administrative search, did not notify parents."
Other families in the school community share that they only found out about the school stabbing after posts made by parents and students began circulating online.
A spokesperson for the school district has not addressed the lawsuit. However, Henry County schools superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis shared a video statement in which she said the district's "schools are designed to be centers of quality education and safe havens for young people to develop, grow, and succeed." Davis adds, "As your superintendent, I accept the responsibility for creating the systems that ensure students learn at high levels and that students have opportunities to succeed. But my first and most significant responsibility is to ensure a safe school for every one of our nearly 44,000 students."
The family’s lawsuit is seeking $3 million in damages. After informing county officials of the lawsuit, the insurance company for Henry County Schools issued a response explaining that neither "the County nor any County employees are legally responsible" for the damages the family is claiming. The school district's insurance company is also denying any liability on behalf of the school district.
Under Georgia State law, as outlined in GA Code § 20-2-992, sovereign immunity extends to school districts as they are regarded as part of the government. The doctrine of sovereign immunity generally shields government actors from liability for negligence. However, this doctrine only goes so far and might not protect the school from willful or malicious acts.
Wilson's lawsuit seeks to hold school officials responsible for their actions via the exception made in sovereign immunity. The lawsuit maintains that had the school staff done their job, the attack could have been prevented.
The family has since moved out of the Henry County School District, and Wilson's daughter is now homeschooled as she continues working through therapy. Wilson said their family is taking it day by day.