Bullying escalates into legal battle in Struthers

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) — A fight between two middle school girls two years ago has escalated into a full-blown legal battle over bullying.

And now the Struthers School District is caught in the middle as it has to enforce a restraining order filed by the family of one of the students involved.

Caitlin Mitchell got into a physical fight two years ago with a girl who had been her friend. Her knee was badly damaged in the fight and required surgery and lengthy physical therapy.

She said the bullying has gotten worse since then, to the point that Caitlin’s parents obtained a protection order against the girl’s entire family.

“My daughter needs to be protected,” said Melissa Mitchell, Caitlin’s mother. “I have to stop this before something bad, something else bad, happens to my daughter.”

The protection order has been violated several times.

Dec. 17 Struthers police report.

After the initial fight, Mitchell took Caitlin out of school for more than six months, but she wanted to go back.

“I went back because I thought it was unfair that she got to go back to school and live her normal life and I didn’t,” Caitlin said.

Struthers Schools Superintendent Joe Nohra said the school district is aware of the protection order and responds aggressively to all allegations of bullying.

“We have a discipline code. We’re very aggressive with that discipline code,” Nohra said. “Even the student being disciplined does have a right to a free and appropriate public education.”

While WKBN 27 First News reporter Amanda Smith was interviewing Caitlin and Melissa Mitchell, one of the people named in the protective order, Destiny Rivera, walked by and exchanged heated words with them.

Smith followed her and Destiny told her it was Caitlin who threw the first punch two years ago. She also said there’s a lot of disagreement between the two families, who are also next door neighbors.

The Mitchells said they’re meeting with the school board to discuss the situation on Monday. They have another court hearing related to their protection order on Monday as well.

The Mitchells also said they have launched a Facebook page to raise awareness of the situation. Melissa Mitchell said she is not sure what else she can do.

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