JACKSONVILLE, Fla — A Jacksonville teen is recovering after he says he was sucker-punched by another boy in a classroom at Lake Shore Middle School on Monday.
“I didn’t know he was going to hit me, but then he did,” 13-year-old Evan Miller told First Coast News at his home on Wednesday. Evan said he doesn’t know the other boy’s name and the attack was unprovoked.
“My son tells me this boy had harassed my son and two other girls on Friday,” Evan’s mother Lawanda said.
Evan, who is on the autistic spectrum, wanted to avoid a continuation of that harassment on Monday and went to a separate room designated for students with special needs.
“He was in a sensory room,” Lawanda asserted, “and that boy is not special needs, he had no business being in there.”
Evan explained that his attacker wasn’t ridiculing him for his autism but relentlessly taunted him for about 30 minutes before the physical altercation.
“The same thing over and over again, saying that he’d hit me,” Evan recalled.
After the attack, Lawanda says she talked with the principal after Evan called her.
“She kind of acted nonchalant at first, which really made me mad,” Lawanda said, adding that the principal’s account was “that [Evan] pushed a kid and the kid hit him.”
Evan said that’s inaccurate.
“The dude came to the sensory room, so he had opened the door,” the seventh grader explained. “And I said he wasn’t allowed to be in there, and he started messing with me.
“I was trying to push the door, so I wasn’t necessarily pushing him, I was pushing the door, but it was into him, to get him out,” he countered.
Eventually the other boy punched Evan, whose hands were at his sides, in the face. The attack knocked Evan down backward and was captured on a phone camera by another student.
“He has a contusion and he has a blood blister under his lip right here,” Lawanda said of Evan, pointing to her upper lip. “My son’s nose was swollen so bad … [The other] kid is bigger than [Evan]. From what I understand he’s, like, two years older than him.”
The attack and all that preceded it, they say, happened under the watch of a substitute teacher.
“I feel she’d probably make them leave me alone,” Evan said of his usual teacher.
“I understand he was a substitute, but you’re working with children. No one stepped in until after my son was hit,” said Lawanda. “My son had to go to the hospital, he’s had to miss school. You know, including the emotional damage.”
Evan himself said he’s not in much pain and that he plans to get back to school next Tuesday, April 23rd. But he said he suffers social anxiety and worries as he looks ahead to returning.
“Along with it spreading, there’s going to be a couple people twisting truth and twisting fact,” he lamented.
Lawanda Miller said she’s been told the other boy has been suspended and will be charged with battery. She’s also considering a lawsuit.
“When in society did people stop teaching their children, for one, you don’t bully people,” she said rhetorically. “You’re supposed to treat people the way you want to be treated.”
As for resolution regarding the other boy, both Mom and son were on a similar page.
“I don’t think anything seriously [severe] should happen. What he did was wrong, definitely,” Evan said.
“I wouldn’t ever want to rob a child of their education,” Lawanda said. “I do think that [the other boy] should have to leave the school.”
Duval County Public Schools sent First Coast News the following statement in response:
“Violence on our campuses is simply unacceptable and will be dealt with accordingly through school discipline and law enforcement action if appropriate.
“In addition to possible disciplinary and criminal action, school leaders also work with parents and students involved in a potential conflict or safety concern to develop a safety plan. Interventions can range from separate classes to no contact contracts and staggered dismissals.”