NEWPORT — Two brothers who are students at Thompson Middle School have been charged by police with felony assault after an eighth-grade boy was struck by a baseball bat while standing at his locker Thursday morning, according to school officials and city police.
School officials said Friday that a seventh-grade boy took a baseball bat and struck the eighth-grader, and his older brother, an eighth-grader, began punching the victim. The incident occurred at 8:15, the beginning of the school day, police said.
The boy who was hit was bleeding, and was brought to Newport Hospital where he was treated and released.
School officials refused to talk about the nature of the injuries or where the boy was struck because of student privacy concerns. Newport police said the injuries were to the back of his head, but whether they were from the bat or punches was unclear.
Both brothers were arrested by Newport police and the matter is under investigation.
Police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Cortes said Friday a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy each were charged with felony assault with a dangerous weapon or object, and conspiracy. The 14-year-old also was charged with simple assault, he said.
Both were processed at the police station on Thursday and released to a parent. The case is pending further action by the Newport police Juvenile Division, Cortes said.
The boy who was assaulted is 14 years old, Cortes said.
“It was premeditated and it’s a serious assault,” said School Superintendent Colleen Burns Jermain.
Because school had just opened, there were students and teachers in the hallway when the assault occurred, said Thompson Principal Laurie Sullivan. Teachers quickly brought students into their classrooms on the third floor when it happened, she said.
Teachers, closely followed by Community Policing Officer Merrie Scott, immediately intervened, Sullivan and Jermain said.
“Because of their presence, it could be taken care of immediately,” Sullivan said.
The Daily News requested to speak to some of the teachers involved, but Sullivan denied that request.
“It was a problem between the students that began on the outside,” Jermain said. “The problem was unfortunately brought into the school.”
Thompson Assistant Principal Robert Campion outlined the incident in an email that was sent to school staff later Thursday morning.
“Today we had what I would describe as probably the ugliest incident in my ten years at TMS,” Campion wrote. “Two students, brothers in 7th and 8th grades, planned and made a coordinated attack on an 8th grade student at his locker.
“The assault started with the 7th grade student brandishing a bat and hitting the 8th grader and then his brother jumped in punching,” he wrote.
Soon after the incident happened, there were social media rumors that added details to the incident that were not accurate, school officials said.
“No knives were used in the attack as this may have been reported out,” Campion wrote. “Had it not been for the quick response of the teachers on the 3rd floor, the incident could have been much worse.”
Disciplinary action against the two arrested students has been taken at the Thompson Middle School level and the matter forwarded to the school superintendent for possible further action, Sullivan said.
Jermain said that school disciplinary matters are private and confidential.
The school, the superintendent and the School Committee can all be involved when disciplinary measures are taken to their fullest level, Jermain said.
“The School Committee will be looking into some of aspects of the assault,” said School Committee Chairman Raymond Gomes. “It’s unfortunate that a student was able to bring a baseball bat into school to assault another student. We have to ensure all our students are safe and secure.”
Gomes said he believed the superintendent can suspend students for up to 10 days and measures that go beyond that would be brought to the School Committee, but said he will check on the policy.
“We’ll receive better reporting about the details of the incident in the next week or so,” he said.
Students cannot be expelled from school under state law, Jermain said.
Without referring to this particular incident, Gomes said educating students is the responsibility of the school district, but students with social or emotional problems can be referred to out-of-district institutions.
“Do we need more staff who can address the emotional and social needs our students have, and perhaps identify students who might so something like this?” he asked. “Those are all questions we will be asking.”
Daily News reporter Derek Gomes contributed to this report.