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Union Middle student being treated in Knoxville after altercation at school

Stephen Igo • Updated Feb 10, 2018 at 10:30 AM

WISE — A 13-year-old middle school student was reported to be “improving” after being taken to Knoxville for treatment of head injuries earlier this week after an altercation with a 14-year-old student at the school.

On Friday, Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said he spoke early in the afternoon with the 13-year-old girl’s father, who said his daughter was “improving” as a result of medical care she has been receiving since the incident on Wednesday.

Wise County Schools Superintendent Greg Mullins said that both girls are eighth-graders at Union Middle School in Big Stone Gap and that the incident occurred in the cafeteria.

Oakes said the older girl has been charged with malicious bodily injury, a Class 3 felony, and released to her parents with a GPS ankle monitor.

The 14-year-old allegedly hit the 13-year-old, knocking her to the floor.

Authorities would not comment on what might have caused the altercation.

“We’re so limited in what we can say, especially when it involves a police investigation. The thing I’ve shared with everybody upfront is the safety of our students is our main priority,” Mullins said.

“All else we do grows from that. Keeping our students safe is the top priority our division has. We had a very unfortunate incident that involves two juveniles, and from the school end we are going to follow our policy that pertains to these situations. And it is a very unfortunate situation.”

Mullins said an assistant principal and at least three teachers were supervising the cafeteria at the time of the incident and responded quickly.

“We strive to ensure a safe environment and we’ll look for ways to enhance that. But when you’ve got five or six hundred students, you can’t monitor each one every second of every minute of the day. There’s nothing positive about any of it, obviously,” he said.

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