From today’s Sentinel:
Teen charged in attack recorded on cell phone
By Winston Jones
Staff Writer

A 15-year-old Lithia Springs High School student is facing felony assault charges in connection with a video-recorded beating of another student at the school last November.

School authorities only last week became aware of the incident after a staff member saw a video of the beating on the YouTube Internet site, according to School Superintendent Don Remillard. It had been recorded by another student on a cell phone video camera, he said. The victim reportedly was too scared of retaliation to tell anyone about the attack at the time.

The beating video was turned over to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office resource officer at the school and an investigation began.

The suspect was identified from the video and arrested last Friday, according to Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan Copeland. He was charged with aggravated assault and violation of the Georgia Gang Law, Copeland said.

“He was initially returned back to the custody of a parent,” Copeland said. “However, at a Tuesday hearing, he was sent to the Youth Detention Center (YDC) in Dallas, pending further order of the juvenile court.”

“We’re absolutely not going to tolerate this kind of behavior on our campuses,” School Superintendent Don Remillard said Wednesday afternoon. “I have all the confidence in the world with our local law enforcement and that they and the juvenile court system will deal with the situation properly and take appropriate action.”

Remillard said the school system is committed to making schools safe and keeping lines of communications open with students.

“We want each young person in our district to feel comfortable reporting any type of incident in which they’re the victim of a crime or feel threatened, bullied or harassed,” he said.

In addition to the juvenile court process, Remillard said the accused student will be given a tribunal hearing by the school system to make a decision on his school status. Tribunal hearings are conducted by a panel composed of three administrators from other schools not involved in the allegation, he said. A trained hearing officer presides over the process. Evidence is presented by the school, he said, and the student and his parents and attorney can put on a defense.

The victim, Zach Cielo, and his mother, Lulu Cielo, talked with WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News Reporter Justin Farmer in a Wednesday newscast. In the interview, Zach said he was so worried about retaliation that he told nobody, including school officials and his mother, about the beating until now. His mother said she has decided to take Zach and his 12-year-old sister out of Douglas County schools and send them to her native Philippines to go to a private Catholic school.

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