A California high school student was suspended after a deputy accused him of instigating a fight with another boy despite the fact that a cell phone video clearly shows he was walking away from the boy who kept pushing and shoving and hoping to instigate a fight.
However, the assistant principal never bothered watching the video nor decide to talk to any witnesses to justify Kobe Nelson’s suspension.
Instead, she based her decision on allegations from San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy Louis Ortiz, who mocked and ridiculed Nelson for being too skinny then accused him of instigating. Ortiz also warned Nelson that he if returned to school within two days, he would be arrested.
However, the boy’s father, Tommy Purvis, a journalist friend who lives in California, is livid about the treatment of his son and is doing everything in his power to remove the suspension as well as complain about Ortiz.
He is meeting with the sheriff’s department Tuesday morning to complain about Ortiz lying about the events that led up to the altercation.
Purvis provided the following synopsis:
I was called Wednesday afternoon by Assistant Principal Gayle Ross from Etiwanda High School. I was told Kobe was being suspended for two days for being involved in a fight. I asked to talk with Kobe. He told me that a San Bernardino County Sheriff deputy was looking at him. It was clear that he was not hurt. I told him to be compliant, and we’d figure the rest out later.
I would have picked Kobe up from school, but I was four hours away by car. My wife went to pick him up from school instead. She also gave his friend from the football team a ride home. I briefly talked to Kobe. He told me a real quick version of the story. His friend told me the same thing. Kobe had been pushed around, but he did not fight back.
I first saw the video Thursday afternoon. I’d just arrived home, and I wanted to first hear Kobe’s full side of the event in person before contacting Ross again. He told me that he was pushed around by a guy on the wrestling team. The guy was jealous over an ex-girlfriend that had been paying attention to Kobe. It was the same person that he had previously been bullied by at Summit Middle School.
Kobe told me that there were at least seven film versions of the encounter going around the school.
I called the school to speak with Ross, but I talked with her secretary. She confirmed that she was in the office when Kobe was brought in for questioning. Kobe was trying to walk off his anger after the situation when he was met by a campus security officer. The officer took him to Ross. She was questioning Kobe when San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputy Louis Ortiz came into her office.
Kobe made an effort to tell Ross that he was confronted, pushed, and thrown to the ground by his backpack. It was then that Ortiz began to mock Kobe. He told Kobe that the fight was his fault for being a victim. He told Kobe that if he bulked up than he’d be safer. Ross did not correct Ortiz.
I was told on Thursday afternoon by Ross’ secretary that an end of suspension meeting would be held Friday at 2 PM. I went to Etiwanda early Friday morning before work. I was not aware if Ross had seen the video. She would not watch it with me. She told me to turn it off, she’d already seen it. Kobe had been suspended for instigating the fight, not for physical force.
Ross told me that the Chaffey Joint Union High School Education Code gave her the right to suspend Kobe for instigating the fight. It would not be expunged from his records. I was told that Kobe had threatened to beat up the bully through the ex-girlfriend. I was given no proof of the allegations. Kobe told me that he never threatened the bully. The aggressor was simply jealous that his ex-girlfriend had tweeted about meeting Kobe over winter break.
I then sent Ross a follow up email, along with a text message from the ex-girlfriend to Kobe. I went to the San Bernardino County Sheriff to file a citizen complaint after work on Friday afternoon. I will send the complaint after I file it in the morning.
The assistant principal has since requested to see the video, even though she claimed she had already seen it. Below is the text exchange between Kobe and the girlfriend of the bully.
UPDATE: Email superintendent Matthew Holton through here.