HOUSTON—The mother of a high school junior gave her daughter a can of pepper spray to fight off bullies on campus after she says her complaints to the school staff fell on deaf ears.
"I know it was wrong but I had to do what I had to do," said mother Betty Duvall.
For weeks, her 17-year old daughter, Michelle Duvall, complained of verbal bullying at Lamar High School, located in the 3300 Block of Westheimer Road.
"They were just (shrugging shoulders) can’t do anything," said Michelle Duvall. "So, I had to protect myself."
She and her 16-year-old friend, Kaylon Edwards, claim a group of girls has repeatedly threatened them since September.
"It was like torture everyday to sit there and try to do the right thing and not egg them on," said Edwards.
The incident at Lamar blew up on Friday when Michelle Duvall was given a can of pepper spray by her mother. She claims it was a coincidence, but the girls decided to jump her the very same day.
After a punch in the face during a fire drill, she started spraying.
"I used my protection and then it just spiraled from there," she said.
The wind was blowing on campus, and a handful of other students got a face full of pepper spray, too.
Dawanda Edwards doesn’t regret what her daughter’s friend did, either.
She believes it was self-defense.
"I shouldn’t have to be at work, worried whether or not my daughter is going to be attacked," said Dawanda Edwards. "I put her in the hands of Lamar and expect them to act accordingly and they did not."
HISD officials would not comment on the bullying accusations but confirmed a pepper spray incident did take place.
All four teens involved were initially suspended until Wednesday.
But while Kaylon Edwards and the other two teens will only have to attend Saturday detention after their suspension, Michelle Duvall will be sent to an alternative school for the remainder of the year.
Betty Duvall said she still believes she did the right thing, but she plans to withdraw her daughter from HISD Tuesday morning.
"If she wouldn’t have had that protection, she probably would have been in the hospital right now," she said.