Family faces steep bills after attack on son
An Ashland eighth-grader faces a criminal charge and another family is dealing with steep medical bills after an assault in the Ashland Middle School gym last month.
James and Jessica Middlestetter said their son Trevor Flamm, an eighth-grader at Ashland Middle School, required emergency oral surgery after he was punched and kicked by another student during the seventh- and eighth-grade lunch period Nov. 14.
“This is a really unfortunate event for us, and it’s really hard on our family,” James Middlestetter said.
The student who allegedly provoked the attack faces a misdemeanor charge of assault in the fourth degree, according to Jackson County Juvenile Justice.
The Mail Tribune is naming Flamm and the Middlestetters, as they agreed to an interview with partner KTVL News 10. The newspaper will not name the student accused of committing the assault because of policy to only name minors who are facing adult Measure 11 charges.
Lynie Arden, Flamm’s grandmother, set up a GoFundMe account the week of Thanksgiving to help the Middlestetters raise the tens of thousands of dollars they said they racked up in medical bills for Flamm’s care in the wake of the attack.
“One tooth, complete with root and nerve, was found on the floor,” she wrote. “The upper jaw bone was broken in two places at the palate. Several teeth and the nose were broken. Trevor still can’t breathe through his nose.”
He’ll need additional surgeries to correct his smile and save his adult teeth, she said. The fundraiser has a $33,000 goal.
The Ashland School District’s investigation into the attack is ongoing, said Laurie Rooper, spokeswoman for the district.
Rooper said two adults were present in the gym as supervisors when the attack happened. But by the time staff responded to the area, she said, the assault was over.
“It wasn’t that the adults were not paying attention or not doing their job,” she said. “It’s just that it was over as soon as it began.”
Before then, Flamm’s teeth were kicked into his sinuses, and his septum pushed back, “almost into his brain,” Arden wrote in the description for her fundraiser.
The Middlestetters said they felt the school failed to protect their son.
“We send our children off to school every day expecting them to be safe,” James Middlestetter said. “Stuff like this happens, and you don’t feel safe sending your kids to school anymore.”
Rooper said that school leadership generally will review an incident with staff to determine where interventions could have been more effective.
At Ashland Middle School, staff supervisors have whistles to draw the other’s attention and to attempt to stop fights, Rooper said. They’re trained to first try to de-escalate situations, and if altercations turn physical, to intervene if they can do so safely.
In a school email to parents on the day of the attack, Principal Stephen Retzlaff expressed staff’s sadness about what had happened.
He said the school “will work with our staff and students to do everything we can to prevent something like this from happening again and ensure student safety.”
Even so, Flamm said he is considering changing schools.
“I don’t feel safe over there at all because of what happened and I don’t feel comfortable going back there,” he said.
Rooper declined to give details on how the other student was disciplined, citing student privacy law.
Retzlaff’s email to parents said that the fight “was not random and was a result of a conflict between the two students.”
Rooper declined to give additional details.
Joe Ferguson, deputy director at Jackson County Juvenile Justice, said the student accused in the attack spent 10 days in juvenile detention before he was released home.
Flamm’s parents said they didn’t know why the school didn’t immediately call the police following the incident. Instead, they said they were instructed to go to the police themselves.
“Our concern was that they wouldn’t call the cops,” said Jessica Middlestetter.
Rooper said she couldn’t comment on why police weren’t called. She said a school resource officer used to cover the Ashland School District, but budget cuts eliminated the position (corrected). She said the district is discussing the feasibility of bringing on a school resource officer again.
Flamm said he hopes the school will learn from his experience.
“A lot of stuff happens in the school that the teachers don’t see,” he said.