Girl, 7, is assaulted at Warwick

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
An emotional Mel Dennis shared a video online, telling of her family’s anguish after her daughter Remmi was attacked at school by a group of boys.

SECRETARY — On April 24, a young girl was assaulted by a group of boys while at Warwick Elementary School. Remmi Dennis was punched and kicked while at recess, later requiring medical attention.

The 7-year-old girl was first treated by the school’s nurse, and later by her own doctor, who prescribed an MRI examination to check for bleeding kidneys.

Remmi is recovering at home. She did not attend classes for the rest of the week. All the children involved are in first grade.

The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office was notified, and deputies took statements from Remmi and others. When contacted for further information on Friday, a representative from the Sheriff’s Office said no comment could be made while an investigation was underway.

Students, teachers and administrators of Dorchester County public schools have been struggling with outbreaks of violence. Recent meetings of the Board of Education have seen calls for consequences for these actions, as well as understanding and mental health treatment for those who commit acts of violence.

Remmi’s mother is Mel Dennis, an educator in Wicomico County who also worked as a teacher in Dorchester until 2015. Ms. Dennis is the mayor of the Town of Secretary.

She and her husband have decided to press charges. She praised the work of the Sheriff’s Office, saying some investigators had been working until after 10 p.m. to generate a report by Monday, for submission to the Dorchester County State’s Attorney’s Office. “They have been working diligently,” Ms. Dennis said.

In a video posted online on Thursday, she said she was very displeased with the response of the school’s leadership. The parents of the boys involved were notified soon after the incident, but Ms. Dennis did not hear from the school until after classes were dismissed, even though her daughter had been feeling unwell and was in the nurse’s office.

Ms. Dennis spoke with Warwick Principal Marybeth Blake and the Central Office’s Supervisor of Student Services Dr. James Bell on Friday, telling them of her displeasure with how the situation was handled. Ms. Blake and Dr. Bell did not respond directly to requests for comment from the Banner.

On Sunday, Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell sent the following statement to the Banner: “As a district, Dorchester County Public Schools is constrained as to what we can say due to privacy laws. However, we are aware that a family has made claims that an incident took place on the playground during recess last week at Warwick Elementary School while the class was being supervised by three members of staff as is daily practice. The principal, along with a Supervisor from Central Office, has met with the parents who made the allegations and suggested several options in going forward. She awaits a response from the parents.”

“Some people with some hefty paychecks dropped some serious balls yesterday, and they’re going to be held accountable for what they did,” Ms. Dennis said on Thursday.

“People in charge don’t know how to handle a situation appropriately, and they’re too busy trying to cover their own asses,” she said. Ms. Dennis said the county “needs a make-over,” and that too many parents don’t advocate for their children, “because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen to their kids if they do.”

President of the Dorchester County Board of Education Glenn Bramble said on Friday, “It is being thoroughly investigated,” though he said he could not share more details. “The board is staying on top of it.”

“I’m concerned as well,” Mr. Bramble said. “We will see better times.”

Ms. Dennis said that while her family waits for the results of the criminal investigation, she and her husband are also considering civil action. She has alerted her teachers’ union, local and state government officials.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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