Outraged best describes a Central Texas family after a high school boy at school smeared super glue onto their daughter’s hair, burning her scalp. The family says the high school only disciplined the culprit after the girl’s father threatened to call 9-1-1.
Hannah Combs, 15, told Harker Heights High School administrators that the incident occurred while talking to a friend in front of the school building. A male classmate came up from behind and poured the caustic compound onto her hair. This happened last Monday, September 14, KWTX-10 reported.
“It (was) like a sunburn times 10,” she told the local TV news outlet. “It was horrifyingly bad.”
While Combs received treatment from the school nurse, a friend called her parents. According to the Killeen Daily Herald, an assistant principal questioned Combs, who experienced unbearable pain making speaking difficult. Later, Combs’ father, Christian Grimmer, a retired soldier, arrived at the school. He told the Killeen newspaper that he became furious with the lack of action he saw taken by school staff. Grimmer said that the high school did not take punitive action until he threatened to call 9-1-1. Grimmer added that an assistant principal got in his face, told him to calm down and “take that attitude elsewhere.”
Grimmer later took Combs to a doctor where she was diagnosed with a first-degree chemical scalp burn. That evening, Combs and mother Jessica Grimmer decided to shave her head to remedy the situation. The teen expressed upset about losing some of her long brown locks to a partial head shave in the affected area. A local hair salon offered to fix Combs’ hair free of charge while her scalp heals and hair grows back, KWTX-10 added.
Combs returned to school the next day although she said the pain did not subside for two more days. The Grimmers told the Herald that they reached out to district superintendent John Craft, although he did not respond. They also contacted a school board member and then got a call from the assistant director of student support services. Frustrated that Craft did not call them, Grimmer said: “Apparently this guy that we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to does not see the need to get involved. Then why do we need him?”
This Monday, the school district finally responded a statement, which read, in part: “Killeen ISD is committed to ensure the safety of all students, staff and parents. Therefore, the district considers this a very serious incident and has responded in accordance to state law, board policy and the student code of conduct.”
Like all Texas public school district Student Code of Conduct manuals, this one lists every zero tolerance violation from major to minor, although high school officials indicated that no specific information would be divulged about the boy because of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Combs told the Herald she learned the boy who super glued her received In-School-Suspension (ISS). This newer disciplinary measure means a student serves time in a devoted suspension room on campus. It allows a school district to collect its Average Daily Attendance (ADA) dollars, “headcount” funds forfeited when a student is marked absent when serving an Out-of-School Suspension (OSS). ISS generally runs like a study hall with no instructional time, according to Dropout to Incarceration, The Impact of School Discipline and Zero Tolerance (2007).
The Herald reported that the boy returned to classes last Friday, causing Combs to feel anxious because they share a class. Combs called her father, who came to pick her up. While in the attendance office, Grimmer admitted to becoming angry over the situation. The principal confronted him, telling Grimmer he needed to leave but Grimmer stayed and signed his daughter out of school. A Killeen ISD police officer then handed Grimmer a trespass warning. Harker Heights High School refused to release Combs to her father’s custody until he went to the parking lot.
Frustrated, Grimmer vented on Facebook, which resulted in wife Jessica Grimmer creating a “Justice for Hannah” page. As of Tuesday, it had 1,880 likes from people in Texas and in other states. The page urges others to “Be the voice against BULLYING.” Last year, Breitbart Texas covered tragic stories of teens who committed suicide following relentless bullying.
The Grimmers wanted the boy in question transferred to another school. Last week, school officials told them they would alter the boy’s class schedule, according to the Herald. On Monday, “Justice for Hannah” posted: “We received a phone call stating that this matter has been addressed and Hannah will be safe at school. We can’t say specifics due to them being minors, but this is a step in the right direction.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.