Huntington Beach High School District Now Confirms Student "Hero" Was Not Suspended

A student identified as Cody Pines tells a classmate to never pick on a disabled boy again.
A student identified as Cody Pines tells a classmate to never pick on a disabled boy again.
YouTube

UPDATE NO. 4, SEPT. 25, 2:21 P.M.: Cody Pines was not suspended from school after stopping a 16-year-old boy from beating a visually impaired classmate, according to Alyssa Griffiths, Huntington Beach Union High School District's public information coordinator.

Her statement:

In the Education Code it is a school district's responsibility to protect student records, as well as to be of personal support to their families. We want to thank the family of the student who came to the aid of his fellow classmate, as they have granted us permission to share the following information:

Their student has not been suspended over past two school days. He has been eligible to attend school with all privileges both Thursday and Friday of this week, and this eligibility will continue.

UPDATE NO. 3, SEPT. 25, 1:10 P.M.: The superintendent of the Huntington Beach Union High School District says Cody Pines was not removed from the Huntington Beach High School football team as the 17-year-old has not played since last spring. But Superintendent Greg Plutko also would not confirm or deny whether Pines was suspended from school after stopping a 16-year-old boy from beating a visually impaired classmate. "[B]y Education Code and personal support to our families, we cannot discuss any aspects of student discipline," Plutko says in a statement that runs in full at the end of this post. Plutko said the fight video getting national attention does not accurately reflect the atmosphere at Huntington Beach High School. "We are proud of our quality high schools, and this incident does not reflect the school climates that have been built by our students, teachers, staff, and families. Behaviors like this will never be tolerated, as safety and wellness must serve at the center of student success. HBUHSD has a strong anti-­bullying code of conduct, and will not condone such behaviors in our schools."

Plutko vows to "redouble" anti-bullying efforts as a result of Wednesday's incident.

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A mother who contacted the district tells the Weekly she was told by Plutko's secretary that Pines was NOT suspended despite media reports (including the one teased on KCBS/KCAL a couple minutes ago). Pines, who is a junior, made no mention of being disciplined when he spoke with the Huntington Beach Independent on Thursday.

"I felt like he was getting really hurt and I felt like it was my obligation to go up there and help him," Pines said of the visually impaired boy he has know since the sixth grade. "That was my only reaction, to be honest. I didn't mean to hurt the [suspect] intentionally, but I just wanted to make sure my friend was OK." Pines added that he does not believe the suspect should have been arrested. "I don't think he really deserves that," he told the paper. "I think he made one big mistake and I think everybody's already punished him by telling him [he was wrong]. I really don't want this kid's life to be ruined."

The victim, who is also 16, suffered facial injuries and was treated at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, according to Huntington Beach Police Officer Jennifer Marlatt, who added no one else involved in the incident sought treatment. Pines--who identified the victim as "Austin" and called him "such a cool kid" who he hopes "everyone hangs out with ... now and shows him love--has received an outpouring of support on Twitter. Even TV's Montel Williams tweeted at Pines, "way to be. DM me any time."

Here is Plutko's full statement:

The Huntington Beach school community is disappointed and discouraged by the recent bullying behavior captured on video at Huntington Beach High School. We are proud of our quality high schools, and this incident does not reflect the school climates that have been built by our students, teachers, staff, and families. Behaviors like this will never be tolerated, as safety and wellness must serve at the center of student success. HBUHSD has a strong anti-­bullying code of conduct, and will not condone such behaviors in our schools.

Of note to some has been the question of whether the student who came to the support of his classmate was removed from the HBHS football team. That student was not removed from the team, as he was not on this year's roster and has not played football since last spring. Secondly, by Education Code and personal support to our families, we cannot discuss any aspects of student discipline.

Since the first days of elementary school, students are taught about the hurtful behaviors of bullying. At these moments when actions don't match values, it again encourages us to redouble our teaching efforts on the lessons that make a difference in the lives of our young adults. Bullying behaviors do not have a place in our schools and communities.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Greg Plutko

 

The suspected bully is shown on the ground.
The suspected bully is shown on the ground.
YouTube

UPDATE NO. 2, SEPT. 25, 9:56 A.M.: More than 23,000 people have signed an online petition aimed at returning a student hailed as a hero to classes at Huntington Beach High School.

Click here to see the petition.

The 17-year-old student, identified by organizers as Cody Pines, is claimed to have been suspended from school for intervening when a reputed "bully" repeatedly punched a visually impaired foe during lunch. The Huntington Beach Union High School District will not confirm the student hailed as a hero was suspended--California districts routinely cite privacy for minors as a reason they won't discuss the discipline of an individual student with the media. Supporters of Pines say he was suspended because Huntington Beach High has a "zero tolerance policy for violence."

UPDATE NO. 1, SEPT. 25, 8:21 A.M.: The Huntington Beach High School student captured on video repeatedly punching a visually impaired student has been arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery, according to police. The suspect, whose name was not released due to his age, has been released to his parents, according to Huntington Beach Police Officer Jennifer Marlatt, the department spokeswoman. The boy and the male victim with a visual impairment "have a history of not getting along," Marlatt says in a news release. The victim walked past the suspect at lunch around 12:30 p.m. when they began arguing and the disabled boy was hit, Marlatt said. "It does not appear the incident has any connection with the victim's disability," she said. The mother of a female student told the Weekly the girl was bullied by the suspect "all last year and it changed the person she is." The mom said of school officials, "Huntington did nothing about it and it made my daughter lose faith in people and the school system. So our family doesn't buy that statement from HBHS because my family was tested and put through hell by this same bully that hit the blind kid. [The suspect] picks on people that won't stick up for themselves."

ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 24, 6:58 P.M.: The Huntington Beach Union High School District says it is investigating the events that led to a lunchtime bullying incident at Huntington Beach High School on Wednesday that was captured on video and is now spreading like wildfire on social media.

The video shows a male student beating on a visually impaired male student--until a third male intervenes and pushes the first attacker down:

The depicted hero's question to the initial attacker--"You're fucking trying to jump a blind kid, bro?"--is especially getting traction on the web.

The incident has been picked up by media from around the country.

Here is the district statement from Alyssa Griffiths, public information coordinator:

On September 23rd, 2015, Huntington Beach High School leaders responded to an incident that occurred on campus during lunch. Shortly following this incident, a video of the event began circulating via various social media outlets. The school is now responding to this isolated incident by interviewing students and witnesses to determine exactly what happened. Additionally, the school is working with local authorities to define the appropriate actions necessary once all of the information is collected.

Huntington Beach High School firmly believes that all students are afforded an opportunity to learn in a safe and secure environment. Because of this, safety is the highest priority. Huntington Beach High School has a very strong anti-­bullying code of conduct and will not condone this type of behavior from any student.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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