PLAQUEMINES, La. -– Two mothers have been arrested in two days after allegedly going too far to defend their children, said authorities.
In St. Bernard Parish, a woman is charged with pulling a stun gun on a teen inside the Chalmette High School gym Thursday.
And in Plaquemines Parish, a mother is accused of threatening a sixth grader on a school bus Friday in Belle Chasse.
Sayra Smith, 34, says her fifth grade daughter said she was bullied on a Plaquemines Parish school bus Thursday and the driver apparently did nothing, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.
“[My daughter] said the little girl was pulling her hair, fighting her, cursing her out,” said Smith. “So the next day, I got on the bus. I wasn't hollering, screaming. I just told the girl, ‘Touch my child one more time and she's going to have problems.’ Meaning, I'm pressing charges.”
But now, Smith is charged with trespassing on the school bus and disturbing the peace.
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff's Office says Smith threatened the sixth grader on the school bus Friday morning and yelled profanities at the driver after he repeatedly asked her to get off the bus.
A school bus surveillance video shows that Smith was on the school bus for less than one minute Friday. You can hear her say, “You have one more time to put your hands on my daughter before you’re going to have a problem with me. Don’t touch her, don’t tell her nothing.”
Then she tells the bus driver, “Don’t tell my daughter nothing. Do your damn job. She’s touching and fighting my daughter.”
Smith also told the bus driver, “I will report your ass,” according to the arrest report.
The Plaquemines Parish School Board asked the sheriff’s office not to release the video, since it shows multiple children’s faces.
Smith stands by her actions.
“I didn't do nothing wrong, I didn't harass nobody,” said Smith. “I did say a word to the bus driver. I was mad because you’re still sitting here not defending my child, and once she gets on this bus it's your job to make sure that she is safe.”
School district officials say Smith should have come to them first. They say they have strict policies against fighting and bullying and would have looked at the bus surveillance video to see what happened and addressed the issues accordingly.
“The beginning of the school year is only two weeks in, so we want to nip this behavior in the bud and tell parents that we're not going to tolerate it,” said Commander Eric Becnel, public information officer for the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office.
“It's unfortunate that this lady did what she did, and now she has to face consequences for her, that she got on a school bus, that she had no right to get on to intimidate another student.”
UNO psychology professor Laura Scaramella says parents should teach adolescents to handle conflicts on their own.
“As hard as it is, parents really need to tone it down and be very matter of fact about it, maybe help the child come up with some solutions,” said Scaramella. “Adolescence and emerging adolescence is a time of emerging autonomy. So parents want to encourage that autonomy and teach kids to do things for themselves.”
It's unclear who started the school bus fight, but Smith's daughter has since been suspended from Belle Chasse Middle for fighting on the bus. And now Smith is banned from the school.
“I have two kids in school. If my kids get sick, how am I supposed to pick my children up?” said Smith.
Smith said her daughter just started school at Belle Chasse Middle School and has never had an issue with fighting or this particular sixth grader in the past.
The Plaquemines Parish School District says Thursday's school bus fight is under investigation. They say both Smith and the bus driver reported the incident Friday morning.
Smith is out of jail on $1,500 bond.
Meanwhile, in St. Bernard Parish, officials say Tammy Miller, 34, threatened her daughter’s rival with a stun gun inside the Chalmette High School gym.
A sheriff’s office narrative says Miller’s daughter had punched that teen in the face days earlier off campus.
The victim reports that Miller called her several times since then to threaten her.
Miller has been charged with aggravated assault and was released on $3,500 bond.