Mother of student injured in CCPS bus altercation speaks out

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, August 24, 2023

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Caycee Martin received the phone call that no parent wants to get from their child’s school on Tuesday afternoon.

“Around 3:47 p.m. I received a phone call from the school stating that there was an incident that occurred on the bus and that I needed to come pick him up from the nurse’s office,” Martin said.

The incident in question was captured on video via smartphone and spread over social media.

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It sent one student to the hospital with head injuries.

It led to a criminal investigation by local law enforcement and prompted an internal investigation by Clark County Public Schools.

The 35-second video clip shows an older female student facing off with a younger male student. The female student forces the male student back down into the seat, appearing to have both her hands on his throat, before repeatedly striking him in the head. Another student jumped in to separate the two shortly after that.

What happened beforehand was not captured on video.

The younger student in the video is Martin’s son, a 12-year-old in the seventh grade at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School.

Martin described what her son told her about the incident once he got to school.

“From his perspective, what happened was there was already high school students on the bus. There was a bookbag in a seat, and he sat down next to the bookbag, to which the other student told him, ‘You can’t sit there. My friend is going to sit there.’ He said no, and that is when she proceeded to choke him and started punching him consecutively,” she said.

Martin describes her son as a sensitive child who sometimes has trouble communicating with others.

“He has poor communication skills. He can speak fluently. It is just the way he gets things across do not come across as empathetic,” she said.

Martin’s son had his head wrapped in gauze and had an ice pack on it when his mom arrived to pick him up.

He was in a wheelchair and had a new shirt on, Martin said. The one he was wearing when he left for school that morning was drenched in blood.

“He was in distress,” Martin said.

Due to the bandaging, Martin was not aware of the extent of her son’s injuries until she took him to the hospital.

“They were atrocious, and I don’t say that lightly,” Martin said. “There are two major lacerations on the top of his head, one of which is three inches long; they measured it at the hospital, and it required eight stitches to close the lacerations.”

He also has bruising on his hands, a lump on the back of his head, and scratches on his neck and shoulders.

While those injuries are healing, the mental scars from the altercation will take some time to close.

“He is not doing good mentally. He suffers from anxiety…This incident as not helped whatsoever. He is terrified to get back on the bus,” Martin said.

Whether her son will return to school anytime soon is uncertain.

However, Martin has nothing but praise for how the school district has handled the situation.

“I actually think it was a good response. The principal was in constant contact with me, and the superintendent also contacted me as well. From there, I was informed of every step of what happened and what was going to happen,” she said.

In a separate interview, Superintendent Dustin Howard told the Sun that the school district was aware of the incident and video immediately.

He also shed some light on the district’s internal investigation, which wrapped up Wednesday.

“We are not just looking at a criminal investigation but also the school’s code of conduct and making sure that we are thorough and that we hold kids accountable, and make sure moving forward that we set the tone that safety comes first and there are certain things you cannot do,” Howard said.

Howard said he wants to use the incident as a reminder of the consequences of sharing online videos of minors without parental consent.

“I do want to encourage folks that these are still minors, so when things are going on social media and being shared, we are not helping minors,” he said. “We have to remind ourselves that social media is forever and we are spreading around things…We are not making it easier on the victim by spreading things out there they are not going to want to remember or talk about. There is trauma involved, and we have to be responsible as adults to make sure we are not unintentionally adding to said drama.”

Howard encourages anyone concerned about a student to contact that student’s school or the district’s central office.

Martin said the video posted online was a “double-edged sword.”

“Just because there is now a hard video of a very difficult time for my son,” she said. “But, at the same time, I do believe that is helped the exposure. There is no telling if it was not recorded and spread around…we may not have had the same resolution.”