News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 2, 2013

Vermillion sheriff’s department investigates school ‘altercation’

Tribune-Star staff report
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vermillion County Sheriff’s Department investigated an alleged battery that took place Monday at North Vermillion Junior-Senior High School.

The incident involved a female student striking another female student and the victim’s boyfriend, said Sheriff Bob Spence. The 17-year-old female victim’s parents notified the sheriff’s department on Monday.

Some students made video recordings of the incident on their cell phones, he said. A detective investigated the incident, and findings were turned over to the Vermillion County Prosecutor on Tuesday, Spence said.

Video from school surveillance cameras and student cell phones was recovered, he said.

The school principal, Jayne Ann Virostko, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The Vermillion County prosecutor’s office doesn’t comment on pending cases and cannot comment on juvenile cases, according to a representative of that office.

Michael F. Turner, North Vermillion superintendent, described the incident as an “altercation” that did not meet the definition of bullying.

“This was an incident over a comment one girl made about the other,” he said. A female student hit another female student and the victim’s boyfriend.

The school district referred the student who struck the two others to an Alternative to Suspension and Advancement Program, or the educational ASAP program, Turner said.

Under ASAP, the student, with parents, appears before a judge, and the judge “has a talk with them,” Turner said. The family must pay court costs.

The judge assigns the student to the Wilson Educational Center at Hillsdale for a set number of days; the student spends half the day studying, and half the day doing community service.

Both North and South Vermillion school districts use the program, Turner said. With the program, the student is able to complete assignments and continues to receive high school credit, yet still faces discipline and community service.

ASAP is a disciplinary option of the school district, Turner said. A parent or family may still choose to press charges.

He emphasized the district “doesn’t tolerate bullying. If we’re made aware of a situation, we address it,” he said.