BAXTER - A Forestview Middle School eighth-grade girl was suspended for 10 days and may be charged with fifth-degree assault after she apparently tried to set another eighth-grade girl's hair on fire at school Tuesday.
Forestview assistant principal Dave Frank said Thursday the incident happened just after lunch as the girls were heading back to class. No adults witnessed the incident but the victim's hair was singed after the suspect apparently tried to set her hair on fire with a lighter. During his investigation, Frank interviewed between 20-25 students who saw what had happened.
The eighth-grade suspect, who is 14, was given a 10-day out-of-school suspension and the Baxter Police Department has forwarded the case to the county attorney's office for a possible charge of fifth-degree assault. The victim is 13, according to police.
"The potential for serious bodily harm was there but it appears there were no burns sustained by the victim but there was physical evidence that a portion of her hair was started on fire," said Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted. "Anyone who attempts to light someone's hair on fire is a serious matter, no matter what the outcome was."
"It could have been bad, and that's why we handled it the way we did," explained Forestview Principal Donna Whalen.
"Good kids make poor decisions and this was a pretty good kid who made a poor decision," added Frank. "It's such an isolated incident. I've been in this business for 25 years and I've never had anything like this happen."
Frank said the incident stemmed from a conflict between the eighth-graders, which isn't an unusual occurrence in eighth grade. He has emphasized to students the serious nature of this crime.
"What was really heartwarming was the number of kids who were willing to step up and do the right thing," said Frank. "I probably interviewed 20-25 kids and obviously that's the only way to get to the bottom of it. It was the information that the kids gave me, even though it's difficult for kids to tell on each other."
JODIE TWEED may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5858.
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