CHATSWORTH, Ga. — It has been more than a month since student Jesus Perales Jr. was reportedly placed in a headlock in a restroom at North Murray High School by another student and then fell face first onto the floor, but Bobbie Perales says her son, 14, still suffers from memory problems.
“If you mention it, he gets angry because he can’t remember what happened,” she said. “He doesn’t remember much about that day. He doesn’t remember being at (AdventHealth Murray). He doesn’t remember Erlanger (hospital in Chattanooga). I asked him if he remembered me and his older sister. His exact words were ‘Mom, I could hear you. I could hear your voices. But I couldn’t see you.’”
According to a Murray County Sheriff’s Office incident report, on April 3 around 12:04 p.m. two students whose names were redacted ran into the lunchroom and told Deputy Kyle Parker, the school resource officer, that Jesus Perales “was in the bathroom screaming.” One of the students said he and Perales were “playing in the bathroom.” He said he had placed Perales in a headlock and when he left him go Perales fell face first onto the floor.
The report said Parker went to the bathroom and saw Perales “rolling on the floor crying and holding his eye.” The report said Perales’ left eye was “slightly discolored and swollen.” Asked if he had been in a fight, Perales said no. The report said one student, whose name was redacted, was in the bathroom crying and apologizing to Perales.
“The school system nurse was also contacted and was en route to the school,” the report said.
The report said Perales’ brother came into the bathroom to check on him. The report said he asked if he should contact their mother and was told to “make contact with her and have her come to the school.”
Bobbie Perales said she got the call around 12:15.
“He sounded hysterical. He sounded angry,” she said of the son who called her. “I was like ‘Really? It’s not your responsibility to call me.’”
Parker and Assistant Principal Keith Robinette placed Jesus Perales in a wheelchair and took him to the front office, where Parker began asking Perales questions to “determine his mental capacity,” according to the report. “He was coherent and alert, but clearly in pain. He knew that he was at school and what day it was, but he could not remember much of the incident.” He was given ice to place on his eye but after a short time he said it hurt so he removed it. He also said he was feeling “nauseous.”
Perales was asked about one student, whose name was redacted, and he said they were friends.
Bobbie Perales rushed to the school.
“As soon as I see my son sitting in that wheelchair, I went off,” she said. “I wanted to know what happened. I wanted to know why they didn’t call 911. This is my son.”
She said Robinette told her to calm down and to look at her son’s eye.
When she saw his eye, Bobbie Perales said she wanted the student who put her son in a headlock arrested.
“He (Robinette) said they couldn’t do that. ‘We have to investigate,’” she said. “I told him, ‘Excuse my language, but that is --------. This is my son.’ He said, ‘Well, I have kids, too.’ I said, ‘Your kid ain’t sitting right here.’”
Reached by phone at the school by a reporter, Robinette said he could not talk about the matter since it involved students at the school.
“I understand you got a job to do. But trying to take advantage of somebody in this position is not very much appreciated,” he said. “I’ll be real honest with you. I know you guys are trained up on all the rules and regulations and stipulations and for you to do this to me without knowing me, period, I do take offense to that.”
Principal Maria Bradley declined to comment.
The report said Parker advised Bobbie Perales to have her son “checked out by a medical professional,” and she said she would take him to the local medical center. The report said Parker and Robinette helped place Jesus Perales into his mother’s vehicle. Then Parker called the medical center to let them know the mother and son were on the way.
After they left, the report said Parker and Robinette called four students who had witnessed what had happened — their names were redacted — into the office separately to question them.
The first student called in was the first student to report what had happened. The report said the student was crying. He said he and another student went into the bathroom and Jesus Perales was at the sink “playing and was splashing them with water.” He said he “jokingly” put Perales into a headlock — not “tightly” — “for approximately three to five seconds and then released him. ... Perales fell face first on the ground.”
When asked if they were friends, “He stated yes and that he would never try to hurt him in any way.”
“Each student detailed the same set of events,” according to the report.
It said two students said they believed they heard the first student ask Perales “to let him know if he was holding too tightly.” They stated that Perales “did not respond to the question” and the first student let go of Perales “and Mr. Perales fell and hit his face on the floor.”
They said they believed the student “playfully placed Mr. Perales in a headlock.”
One student said Perales “passed out and that he fell to the floor face first and his head bounced off of the ground.”
The report said Parker contacted Deputy Tommy Brown, who had gone to the medical center to speak with Bobbie Perales. Brown said Jesus Perales was being transferred to Erlanger for further observation.
“I was advised that Mr. Perales had a fractured orbital bone, a neck contusion, and some type of head injury. He also advised that Mr. Perales was having trouble staying awake,” the report said.
The report said Bobbie Perales had left with her son before the nurse arrived at the school.
The report said Parker was able to contact Bobbie Perales the next day. The report said she told Parker that her son had a fractured left orbital bone, “marks all over his neck,” and a “major concussion.”
The report said Perales said her son did not understand why his eye hurt or why he was in the hospital.
The report said Perales said her son remembered being put in the headlock and believed the other student was “playing, because they were friends, so he chose not to fight back and to just go with it. He did not remember anything after that.”
The report said the incident is being investigated as a possible assault. Murray County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jimmy Davenport said the sheriff’s office has referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office for advice.
District Attorney Bert Poston said Monday he has been out of town most of the last two weeks and plans to look at the incident later this week.
Bobbie Perales said she is upset at how school officials handled the situation and that she had to drive her son to the medical center.
“Call 911 first, then call me,” she said. “Don’t ask my other son to call me. That shouldn’t have been put on him.”
In an email, Murray County Schools Director of Administration Mike Tuck said he could only confirm that a student did sustain a head injury.
“I cannot share details of the incident or the injury, except to say that we regret that it occurred and are hoping for a speedy and full recovery of the injured student,” he said, citing federal law.
“I can’t share health information about the injured student due to HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and I can’t share information about the other student involved because it is a discipline incident which FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) renders confidential,” Tuck said.
Tuck was also asked why school officials did not call 911.
“According to administration, when the incident happened, the school resource officer and assistant principal were immediately on the scene,” he said in a separate email. “There was no obvious signs of trauma (other than a knot above the eye) and the student was alert and responsive. The nurse was called to assess the situation and the mother was also called. The mother arrived before the nurse could get there, and decided to take the student to the hospital rather than having an ambulance called.”