San Francisco Chronicle

Two women arrested in beating of San Pablo middle school student

Video shows pair joining assault on girl in bathroom

- By Joel Umanzor Reach Joel Umanzor: joel.

“This incident was a disturbing violation of our students’ safety on campus, and the actions of the adults involved are not representa­tive of our parent community.” Elizabeth Sanders, West Contra Costa Unified School District spokespers­on

Two women were arrested after a video surfaced showing them joining students in the beating of another student in a San Pablo middle school bathroom, according to school officials and police.

Niyesha Clark and Jennessy Hamilton, both of San Pablo, were arrested around 2:30 p.m. last Monday at Helms Middle School during dismissal, according to the San Pablo police.

The two women were arrested on suspicion of child abuse, battery on school grounds and trespassin­g, authoritie­s said. They were both booked into Contra Costa County Jail and released on bond.

“This incident was a disturbing violation of our students’ safety on campus, and the actions of the adults involved are not representa­tive of our parent community,” West Contra Costa Unified School District spokespers­on Elizabeth Sanders said. “In addition to disciplina­ry and law enforcemen­t response to this incident, we are also engaging in a campus-wide response to restore safety for our whole school community.”

Because the students are minors, school district officials could not comment on specifics of student discipline but said that the district is investigat­ing the incident and following the normal procedure.

A video of the incident — which was posted to Twitter on Tuesday — showed two girls punching another girl who was on the floor of the school’s bathroom when the two women ran in and also began punching the student who was down.

Keiry Huezo — who identified her daughter as the student on the floor being punched — said her daughter was attacked by the other girls after confrontin­g them for bullying her best friend earlier Monday.

Huezo said her daughter had previous issues with one of the girls in September but that she was told by her daughter that the principal held a mediation between the girls and the conflict was settled.

“From that moment on there were no problems, everything was fine until this past Monday,” Huezo said, adding that both women involved in the attack were the mothers of the girls who were punching her daughter.

In the aftermath of the attack, Huezo said she was informed by the principal that the school’s resource officer — which the school contracts with San Pablo police — had called in sick that day and there was a delay in school security arriving to the incident.

“There’s only three security guards in the whole school and, to my understand­ing, they were going to have a meeting about carrying the walkie-talkies because I guess one of them didn’t have it,” she said, adding that the principal — who usually has a teacher with her while monitoring the school’s front gate — was by herself when the women entered the school.

Helms Principal Priya Sembi, according to school district officials, followed the women after they entered the bathroom to stop the beating.

Regardless of that detail, Huezo said, the district should be investing more money in school security and the middle school should handle “jumping” of students with harsher punishment — adding that reports of fights and a lack of property security response at Helms are not uncommon.

“Security guards when they see a fight, they go walking at a snail’s pace. Teachers are always there before but they’re too scared to get involved,” she said.”

School district officials did not comment on security during the fight but reiterated that the investigat­ion is ongoing.

Huezo said she doesn’t want to pull her daughter out of the school but is leaning that way because she feels the district isn’t making an effort to resolve the conflicts.

“They don’t want to deal with this,” Huezo said. “Basically, they’re saying they haven’t expelled the girls yet so if I were to leave her there, they don’t know what they would do. I feel like they’re protecting them more than my daughter at this point.”

Attempts to reach Clark and Hamilton for comment were unsuccessf­ul.

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