Princeton Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane has issued a statement in response to the Planet Princeton story and comments on social media regarding an 11th grader with autism who had to get stitches after a fight at Princeton High School.
“The incident is one we take very seriously and one we investigated promptly and thoroughly,” Cochrane wrote.
“While we are limited in what we can share as a school district, our findings continue to be consistent with what the police reported regarding a mutual altercation between two young men in a hallway,” Cochrane wrote. “There is no evidence of any group assault as is being alleged and discussed by some on social media. We recognize the sensitivity of the situation, and we are committed to supporting the rights and the dignity of each student involved.”
The fight took place on June 16 and police had to be dispatched to the school. Part of the incident was recorded on a cell phone by at least one student, and a student posted a clip on Snapchat, students told Planet Princeton.
There have been conflicting reports regarding whether the fight was mutual. Police said Friday afternoon that two students allegedly engaged in a verbal argument in the cafeteria. The argument allegedly escalated and the boys walked to a nearby hallway, where they got into a fight. The autistic student was cut in the head, and the other student injured his hand. According to police, no other students were involved in or took part in the fight, although there were several students present during the fight.
Students supporters of the 11th grader with Asperger’s Syndrome told Planet Princeton that more than one student was involved in the fight, and said the other students did nothing to stop the fight. Students allege that the eleventh grader was invited to the hallway to “show him something.” But other students claim the student with Asperger’s started the fight and tried to fight the entire group of students.
After the fight, the student with Asperger’s Syndrome was allegedly told to stay home for the rest of the term, and the student who hurt his hand in the fight was suspended for two days.
A recent graduate of the high school posted a petition online decrying the incident and calling for an investigation this weekend, but the petition was redacted Monday and the statement on the petition page was removed. The petition had received almost 300 signatures.
Children who have autism spectrum disorders are three times as likely as their non-affected siblings to experience bullying, according to a 2012 national survey conducted by the Interactive Autism Network and Johns Hopkins University. Sixty-one percent of kids with Asperger’s experienced bullying, while 28 percent of children with autism and 37 percent of children with other autism spectrum disorders had been bullied, according to parents who took part in the survey. More than half of the autistic children experienced intentional triggering of meltdowns or had been provoked into fighting back, according to parents.