35-year-old Beronica Ruiz was beaten by a 13-year-old boy who shouted racist words at her 12-year-old son.
The New Jersey mother suffered facial fractures and a concussion after the teen punched her in the face. He also threw her to the ground a few blocks away from Passaic Gifted and Talented Academy School No. 20.
The attacker allegedly shouted, “Mexicans should go back behind the wall” at her son, along with other teens in the cafeteria the day before the incident.
Ruiz’s son replied to the bullies, “We all come from immigrants,” said lawyer Daniel Santiago. “But that angered the other boys. The boys were threatening him, saying they’d beat him up.”
The 12-year-old then talked to a teacher and he was sequestered in a classroom or office to keep him away from the bullies, said Santiago.
Ruiz only found out about it the next day when her son said he was afraid to go to school. According to the lawyer, the assistant vice principal of the school said he had forgotten to inform her.
“He essentially said my bad, my mistake,” Santiago added.
Ruiz decided to pick her son up from school and walk with him home along with her 1-year-old child whom she was pushing in a stroller.
While walking away from school, her son said that three of the boys who had threatened him were following them. The 13-year-old then approached them and punched the 12-year-old boy in the face, said the lawyer.
“Then, as any mother would, after [he] was knocked down, Beronica got between the assailant and her son, trying to stop the attack,” Santiago continued. “And the young boy punched Beronica in the face and threw her to the ground.”
The mother’s “head cracked against the sidewalk” and she lost consciousness.
Ruiz was hospitalized for days. When her child came back to school, she saw that the boy who attacked her was in class and had not been punished.
When the 12-year-old’s dad, Alfonso Vasquez, asked school administrators why the attacker hadn’t been punished, they only said: “Well, he has the same right to an education as your son does.”
The family reached out to Passaic Mayor Hector Lora who immediately called the school.
“It was only after the mayor got involved that the school suspended the child,” the lawyer said.
Lora said in a statement to BuzzFeed that he is “outraged over this incident.”
“The details regarding what led up to this incident remain under investigation,” Lora said. “However, one thing is very clear: what occurred to this mother is unacceptable and whatever we need to do as a city, as a community, to do better by our families and our children, we will do.”
The 13-year-old was charged as a juvenile with simple assault and aggravated assault. According to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, he was released and will appear in family court.
The family is now planning a lawsuit against the school, with their lawyer saying: “Clearly there was negligence.”
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