A student who reportedly placed another student in a headlock in a restroom at North Murray High School, leading to the other student falling face first onto the floor and suffering injuries, will not return to North Murray when classes resume on Sept. 3, a school administrator said.
In an email, Murray County Schools Director of Administration Mike Tuck said he could only confirm that the student will not return to North Murray for the 2019-2020 school year and could not comment further.
"I cannot discuss 'why' as it is a student discipline matter," Tuck said.
That doesn't satisfy the mother of the student who was placed in the headlock. Bobbie Perales said she doesn't believe school system officials have done enough to protect her son and worries that the other student will be back in the 2020-2021 school year, when her son will still be a student at North Murray.
Perales said her son — Jesus Perales Jr. — suffered a fractured left orbital bone and a concussion from the April incident.
"Physically, he's way better," she said.
But she said he still has memory problems and gets upset when the incident is mentioned.
"Before this happened, he was very quiet, very nice," said his brother Brandon Miller. "But since that day, he gets mad more easily. I don't know if he's living through that again or what."
According to a Murray County Sheriff’s Office incident report, on April 3 around 12:04 p.m. two students whose names were redacted ran into the lunchroom and told Deputy Kyle Parker, the school resource officer, that Jesus Perales Jr. “was in the bathroom screaming.” One of the students said he and Perales were “playing in the bathroom.” He said he had placed Perales in a headlock and when he left him go Perales fell face first onto the floor.
The report said Parker went to the bathroom and saw Perales “rolling on the floor crying and holding his eye.” The report said Perales’ left eye was “slightly discolored and swollen.” Asked if he had been in a fight, Perales said no. The report said one student, whose name was redacted, was in the bathroom crying and apologizing to Perales.
“The school system nurse was also contacted and was en route to the school,” the report said.
The report said Perales’ brother came into the bathroom to check on him. The report said he asked if he should contact their mother and was told to “make contact with her and have her come to the school.”
Bobbie Perales said she got the call around 12:15 p.m.
Parker and Assistant Principal Keith Robinette placed Jesus Perales in a wheelchair and took him to the front office, where Parker began asking Perales questions to “determine his mental capacity,” according to the incident report. “He was coherent and alert, but clearly in pain. He knew that he was at school and what day it was, but he could not remember much of the incident.” He was given ice to place on his eye but after a short time he said it hurt so he removed it. He also said he was feeling “nauseous.”
Perales was asked about one student, whose name was redacted, and he said they were friends.
The report said that when Bobbie Perales arrived Parker advised her to have her son “checked out by a medical professional,” and she said she would take him to the local medical center. The report said Parker and Robinette helped place Jesus Perales into his mother’s vehicle. Then Parker called the medical center to let them know the mother and son were on the way.
After they left, the report said Parker and Robinette called four students who had witnessed what had happened — their names were redacted — into the office separately to question them.
The first student called in was the first student to report what had happened. The report said the student was crying. He said he and another student went into the bathroom and Jesus Perales was at the sink “playing and was splashing them with water.” He said he “jokingly” put Perales into a headlock — not “tightly” — “for approximately three to five seconds and then released him. ... Perales fell face first on the ground.”
When asked if they were friends, “He stated yes and that he would never try to hurt him in any way.”
“Each student detailed the same set of events,” according to the report.
It said two students said they believed they heard the first student ask Perales “to let him know if he was holding too tightly.” They stated that Perales “did not respond to the question” and the first student let go of Perales “and Mr. Perales fell and hit his face on the floor.”
They said they believed the student “playfully placed Mr. Perales in a headlock.”
One student said Perales “passed out and that he fell to the floor face first and his head bounced off of the ground.”
The report said Parker contacted Deputy Tommy Brown, who had gone to the medical center to speak with Bobbie Perales. Brown said Jesus Perales was being transferred to Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga for further observation.
“I was advised that Mr. Perales had a fractured orbital bone, a neck contusion, and some type of head injury. He also advised that Mr. Perales was having trouble staying awake,” the report said.
The report said Bobbie Perales had left with her son before the nurse arrived at the school.
The report said Parker was able to contact Bobbie Perales the next day. The report said she told Parker that her son had a fractured left orbital bone, “marks all over his neck,” and a “major concussion.”
The report said Perales said her son did not understand why his eye hurt or why he was in the hospital.
The report said Perales said her son remembered being put in the headlock and believed the other student was “playing, because they were friends, so he chose not to fight back and to just go with it. He did not remember anything after that.”
In May, District Attorney Bert Poston said he had "made some decisions" in the case but could not discuss them further "because the case involves juveniles." In a recent email, he again said he could not discuss the matter.
Bobbie Perales said she received a victim impact statement form from Juvenile Court. Court Administrator Mary Walker said that while Juvenile Court proceedings are generally confidential if the family fills out and returns the form they will be kept informed about how a case is resolved.
Bobbie Perales said she has been talking to attorneys about legal action against the school system but has not been able to find one who will take the case.