DOVER, AR — “This is new and consistent with trauma yesterday,” she read from the medical forms.
Jenni Lou Scroggins explains her son’s diagnosis.
“Austin’s injuries were extensive,” she said.
Scroggins said she received a call from Dover High School’s principal telling her that 15-year-old Austin had been in a fight but didn’t need medical attention.
“She told us he had a black eye, was checked out by the school nurse and was fine,” Scroggins said.
Austin’s injuries, seen in these photos, seemed serious to Scroggins.
“There was blood in his eyeball,” she said. “He had a huge knot on his temple and bruising around his neck. He didn’t complain, but he couldn’t keep his dinner down.”
That’s when they took him to the Emergency Room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Russellville. The doctors confirmed he had a concussion. An optometrist the next day reported retinal tearing and detachment. On Friday, a specialist reported the damage could be permanent.
“I feel let down. I feel like my son didn’t matter enough to seek medical attention,” Scroggins said.
Austin reportedly received these injuries from a fellow student. He and a fellow student had been tossing carrots, playfully, at one another. That’s when Austin, and other students, tells us a sophomore came up and told Austin to “grow up”.
Austin said he responded by tossing a carrot at the sophomore.
“He grabbed me by the throat, pushed me out of my chair,” Austin said. “All I remember is him hitting me twice. “
Other Dover High School students tell us Austin never fought back and was even knocked unconscious. According to those students, the boy continued punching Austin.
Still, Austin was the one suspended from school for 10 days for “provoking” the sophomore, according to his parents.
“When my husband picked him up from school and saw his face, he asked the principal if our son deserved this. She told him that Austin did provoke it.”
According to other students, the sophomore who did the beating has been at school all week, sentenced to in-school-suspension (ISS).
“The child continued to punch Austin,” she said. “My child was limp. He continued pummeling him. Where were the teachers? Why couldn’t someone have stopped him from hitting my son seven times in the face?”
“My son is in trouble for what he did. Austin shouldn’t have thrown the carrot at him, and he’s in trouble at home for that,” Scroggins said. “But to punch him in the face for it, repeatedly, it doesn’t make sense.”
We tried to get the school’s side of the story from both the principal and the superintendent. Neither one of them, we were told, were available. We left messages and sent emails. Neither of them have gotten back to us.
A look at the school’s policy on prohibited conduct shows that assault or threatening assault isn’t allowed and is punishable by suspension from school. There’s no mention of punishment for those who might provoke an assault.
“My child feels let down. He doesn’t want to return to school,” Scroggins said.
According to Scroggins, this is the result of an escalated process at Dover schools. Austin was first enrolled in March of 2012. By April 2012, his parents were having to complain about severe teasing, name-calling, and bullying.
“A board member actually told me Austin needed tougher skin,” Scroggins said. “He told me boys will be boys. But why is that the explanation when my son is being harassed, but when he tosses a carrot in horseplay it’s no longer something to shrug off?”
Scroggins isn’t sure Austin will be heading back to Dover High, she points to the pictures of his injuries as an explanation of why.
Dover Police confirm they are investigating the reported assault and plan to turn over the case to juvenile intake officers when it is completed.