A Valley family is questioning the way their local elementary school district handled the assault of their daughter, saying she was just trying to stand up to a bully.
Krystle Dekobend says she was "astonished and upset" when she learned her daughter was going to suspended from school without her side of the story being heard at all.
"I've always taught her you never pick a fight. You'll be in more trouble with me than anybody else if you do, but you will stand up for somebody who's being picked on."
11-year old Brooklynn Goodale said that is what she thought she was doing when she spoke up after hearing another girl verbally assaulting a student.
It happened in the school bus line. The girl thought a student was cutting into line.
"She just started yelling at her and cursing at her and she wouldn't stop, I told her it's not right you shouldn't be doing that," said Brooklynn.
She said when the girl stepped up toward her, she put out her hand to stop her, that's when she was assaulted, taken to the ground and punched several times.
Instead of hearing her side, Brookynn said she was suspended for a day. Something which had her family very upset.
"They treated her like she was a criminal in this situation, it was astonishing. Punishing the person that stands up for the innocent ones is not the way to handle it," said Dekobend.
Her mother added that Brooklynn had actually started an anti-bullying campaign at her last school and the big crux of that was to speak up if they saw something. The school had encouraged students who had disagreements to talk it out, instead of punishing them, said Dekobend. Many of them ended up becoming friends after that.
Dekobend pointed out that even at her daughter's current school, Santa Maria Elementary, there were several signs telling kids to speak up if they saw any acts of bullying.
ABC15 took these concerns to the Superintendent of the Fowler Elementary School District.
Superintendent Martine Lobata stressed this was not a bullying incident and said Brooklynn should not have interfered in another argument over someone cutting in line. ABC15 asked Lobata if they had heard Brooklynn's side of the story before punishing the girls. Lobata did not know the answer to that but said her office planned to contact the child's family.
Lobata said both girls were punished for their role in the fight, and she encouraged students to reach out to adults at the school if they saw anything that concerned them, instead of getting involved themselves.
Dekobend said she was extremely disappointed in how the district chose to handle the situation.
"The other girl threw not only the first punch, but every punch in that fight," she added.