A Westlake High School junior had to be hospitalized with serious injuries after being beaten in a classroom attack Monday by four other students who will face charges, a school system spokeswoman said.
The 16-year-old victim's mother said he suffered a broken nose and jaw and underwent surgery Tuesday, and that he will remain at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston for another three days.
Susan Hale, spokeswoman for Fulton County Schools, confirmed that three freshmen and one sophomore are being suspended from school and are to be prosecuted for their roles in the incident.
A lawyer hired by the victim's mother said the school didn't do enough to protect the teen who was beaten.
"Why didn't they call 911? " the lawyer, Esther Panitch, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday after the boy emerged from surgery to insert a metal plate into his jaw, which was wired shut. His mother did not want to be identified out of concern for her son's safety.
Panitch said an administrator at the South Fulton school contacted the victim's mother sometime after 1:08 p.m. Monday -- nearly 40 minutes after the school said the brawl occurred.
She was told her son was involved in a fight.
"She asked to speak to her son and was told, ‘You can't talk to him now. He's gurgling blood,' " Panitch said.
Hale said it was up to the school nurse to decide whether to call an ambulance. A school resource officer, who has arrest powers, was called to the scene, she said. Westlake's principal was away for the day at a training session, Hale said.
The injured teen was taken to Egleston by his mother. She found him lying on a cot with an ice pack applied to his jaw when she arrived at the school, according to Panitch.
School officials have reviewed a video of the incident taped by a student, Hale said. They determined all four of the students should be suspended, although one of the four was not at school Tuesday and had not been told of his punishment, the spokeswoman said.
A substitute teacher was working in the classroom Monday, Hale said. She said officials have yet to talk with the substitute or determine if she followed proper protocol by pushing a call button once the assault started.
Hale said other students in the classroom broke up the fight. No one else was injured.
Hale said school officials didn't know what caused the fracas, but the victim's mother told Panitch her son had a prior dispute with the freshman she believes was the instigator. That same student was arrested Oct. 28 for assaulting a school resource officer and was allowed back to school Nov. 1, according to Panitch.
It wasn't immediately clear if the four accused students were members of the class or had come into the room specifically to attack the victim.
Panitch said the 16-year-old hasn't decided whether he will return to Westlake High, where Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton were students.
"We do not believe the school is taking this seriously enough," said Panitch, who plans her own investigation. "The school needs to be held accountable so something like this doesn't happen again."
Hale said the school will wrap up witness interviews and have the four alleged attackers appear before a school tribunal, which will decide whether to expel them.
“It’s still fluid, and we’re still investigating," Hale said Tuesday.