Saturday, August 13, 2022

Mother: Girl was assaulted at Frontier Middle

by By R. Hans Miller, Staff Writer
| December 20, 2021 1:00 AM

An officer with the Moses Lake Police Department was called to Frontier Middle School at 517 W. Third Ave. shortly before 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13, after an alleged assault on a 13-year-old girl on campus, according to a police report.

“It was on campus, and it was right when they were loading the buses,” said the girl’s mother, Flor Murillo. “She’s currently in digital learning and she was in transition to go back to Frontier because the digital learning program didn’t work out for her. And the reason she was in digital learning was because she was being bullied at Frontier and nothing was being done about it.”

Murillo said her daughter visited the campus to pick her younger sister up from school when the alleged assault occurred. During the attack, Murillo said her daughter was hit and had her head slammed into the concrete of the sidewalk by another female student. That student was one of multiple students who were harassing her daughter on campus and off, she said.

The school district’s administration said it takes all cases of bullying seriously and is working to improve the situation at Frontier.

“Our schools follow up on all reported cases of bullying and perform thorough investigations with the aid of MLPD – with whom we work very closely to ensure a safe environment for all students,” said Claren McLaughlin, spokesperson for Moses Lake School District.

Murillo claimed multiple calls to report the harassment of her daughter by other students to campus administration went unanswered and only one of the school counselors, Kyleigh Bakes, was helpful in any way.

Murillo also said she reported online and in-person harassment of her daughter to school staff, and was called by Frontier Assistant Principal Sara Richards. Murillo was informed she needed to tell her daughter fighting on campus was unacceptable.

“And so she tells me, ‘We got a call or you know, we got wind that there was going to be an altercation. So, your daughter was involved. I pulled her into my office and I spoke to her about it and I need your help letting her know that we have a zero-tolerance policy. That she can’t fight.’”

Murillo said she explained she was the mother who alerted staff to the possible altercation and it was actually her daughter who was in danger. Afterward, Murillo said, Richards told her she needed to keep Murillo’s daughter off the bus for her safety and left the call. Murillo later found out her daughter had been pulled from the bus by a security officer and had to secure her own means of getting home.

Afterward, Murillo’s daughter transferred into online instruction with Bakes’ help and only returned to campus the one time to pick up her younger sister, Murillo said when the recent altercation occurred. Murillo said her daughter is recovering from a black eye, swelling and multiple injuries to the head and face. A computed tomography scan was performed of her head that will need to be repeated later as a follow-up to ensure no internal trauma to the head will cause complications, she said.

Shannon Jurgens, the mother of another student who she says she removed from Frontier due to bullying and fights on the campus, said she feels the school has a bad reputation for an unresponsive administration and violence on campus.

“I don’t feel my kids are safe going to Frontier anymore. All you ever hear about is fights.” Jurgens said.

Murillo said she has filed multiple police reports related to her daughter’s case, but it was only after the latest incident, which resulted in her daughter going to the emergency room at Samaritan Healthcare, she pressed charges against an alleged assailant of her daughter.

MLPD Chief and Moses Lake School Board President Kevin Fuhr said the charges the student is facing include fourth-degree assault and harassment. The police department has completed its report on the matter which will be provided to a prosecutor and then moved into juvenile court, he said.

As president of the school board, Fuhr said he and his fellow board members make the policy, but it is up to the administration of the district to enforce those policies. However, he added all students should expect to be safe on campus and he is working with district administration as the police chief to address ongoing concerns at Frontier.

“The superintendent and school administration are aware of the issues (at Frontier),” Fuhr said. “And actually, they made a principal change last week in that school, hoping to change things.”

John Farley took the helm of the campus as principal when that change was made, Fuhr said. He replaces former principal Guinevere Joyce.

The change took place on Dec. 3 when Joyce and Farley switched positions, with Joyce moving to Midway Elementary School and Farley taking over at Frontier. Farley was principal at Midway prior to the change.

“We acknowledge this midyear change was unexpected, however, we want to assure you that your students will continue to be provided a quality education during this swift transition. We thank you for your understanding as we work together for your child’s success,” an MLSD statement to parents regarding the change read.

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