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7th-Grader Beaten In Baltimore Classroom; Incident Latest In String Of School Violence

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– On edge. There is growing concern over school violence after a seventh-grader was beaten inside her classroom.

Mike Hellgren has the outrage.

School officials have confirmed that this incident happened. The student’s father said he doesn’t know if he wants her to go back to school.

Seventh-grader Laponda Thompson and her dad spoke only to WJZ about a vicious fight inside Garrison Middle School in Baltimore.

Laponda Thompson claims another student attacked her inside a classroom and she now fears for her safety. She shows her bloody uniform.

“It was closed fist. She hit me in my face,” she said. “Other people were sitting down watching it. One girl was trying to stop it, but everybody kept moving her out of the way.”

Her dad says it happened despite two teachers inside the room. He says one left to get help.

“She should be safe. Every child should be safe in that school, and every teacher and staff members should be safe in that school,” Keith Thompson said.

Amid growing concern over school safety, several local cases have captured national attention, like the fight caught on a cell phone and the arrests of students at Morrell Park Elementary after a vicious brawl a few weeks ago.

“I think it is unfair to characterize all urban schools as violent or all Baltimore City Schools as violent,” Dr. Robert W. Simmons III of Loyola University said. “People don’t recognize the complexity of schools, in particular, in urban communities. It’s also a byproduct of the society that we live in where violence is present in movies and music.”

As for Laponda Thompson, she and her dad are worried about retaliation and can’t shake their alarm over what’s already unfolded in the classroom.

“Her pants were bloody. Her whole shirt was bloody,” Keith Thompson said. “She could be dead right now.”

In a statement, schools officials said Laponda Thompson was treated by a medic and the incident is still under investigation.

A school spokeswoman adds that disciplinary action will be taken.

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