GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. – An 11-year-old white girl is charged with a hate crime after a 10-year-old African-American girl was subjected to “racially motivated language” and a black eye, police said Monday.
Three girls were involved in the assault on a school bus in Gouverneur, New York, about 100 miles north of Syracuse, CNN affiliate WWNY reported. Two of the girls are white, and the victim is African-American, police said.
The victim’s parents reported the incident to police on September 10. They said their daughter had a black eye, some of her hair had been pulled out and her knee was bruised after falling into the school bus seat, Gouverneur police said.
After a police investigation the two white girls, ages 10 and 11, were arrested Monday and charged with one count of second-degree aggravated harassment.
The 11-year-old girl also was charged with assault and a third-degree hate crime. The hate crime charge is a felony, Gouverneur police Sgt. Darren Fairbanks said.
“It’s not very often that we charge a hate crime in the village of Gouverneur,” Fairbanks told CNN.
The parents of the two girls were referred to St. Lawrence County Probation for further action, police said. The cases will be handled in juvenile court.
The bus monitor, a 28-year-old woman, was also charged with three counts endangering the welfare of a child Monday because police said she witnessed the assault, but “did not make an effort to stop and/or prevent said behavior.”
First Student, the bus company used by the school district, has been asked to provide more training to bus aides and monitors, the superintendent told WWNY.
The company has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Lauren French, superintendent of the Gouverneur Central School District, told WWNY that the incident “is probably the most professionally devastating event since I started working at Gouverneur in 1984.”
“I firmly believe we are better than this,” French said, “and we have to take a stand.”
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary Pasqua said his office does not prosecute anyone under the age of 13 in this kind of case. Those generally go to a family court. “The hate crime elevates the underlying offense,” he said of such charges.