A Medomak Valley High School student will likely face an assault charge in addition to school discipline after attacking a middle school student on a bus April 4, according to Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde.

Police are investigating the fight between a ninth-grader and a seventh-grader in a school bus on school grounds at Medomak Middle School on Manktown Road, according to Labombarde.

He said a criminal charge — most likely of assault — is imminent.

Deborah Vannah, the mother of the 13-year-old middle school student involved, said she took her son to Pen Bay Medical Center following the assault where it was determined that the boy's shoulder bone — the scapula — was fractured, among other injuries. She said her son was punched in the head and repeatedly in the ribs just as he entered the bus by an older boy he did not know well in retaliation for a comment he had made earlier that offended another student.

Vannah said her son had been threatened days before the incident and this was brought to the school's attention. Her son was escorted to the bus by Principal Ben Vail, who police said immediately broke up the fight.

Vannah said she believes her son was badly injured in part because he had been told that if he did not defend himself, he would not get in trouble.

"He's been assaulted, humiliated and injured as a result of doing the right thing," she said.

She added however, that he should not have made the comment to the other student. She said the offended student rallied a group of friends to retaliate for the comment.

"I don't know what it says about society when kids are taking things into their own hands to administer justice," she said. "What does a 15-year-old know about justice?"

After the fight on the bus, the high school student was taken off the bus and disciplined. Vannah said she believes he received a 10-day suspension. Not knowing how else to get home, the 13-year-old, now in need of medical attention, got back on the bus to go home, according to his mother.

When she found out about the incident, she had the school contact the bus driver and stop the bus to get her son and she took him to the hospital.

She confirmed that some of the bullying between kids has been done via Facebook.

Labombarde said the school has a zero-tolerance stance toward violence and bullying. Regional School Unit 40 School Resource Officer Tom Hoepner is investigating, he said.

He said it is much better to have a police officer in schools to calm students down and make sure issues are dealt with in a manner that is fair and consistent.

Labombarde said bullying is often fueled by social media websites such as Facebook where students continue to confront each other about the disagreements they have had during the school day. The cooling down period that used to come after kids went home is now gone, replaced by ongoing chatting online.

He urges parents to monitor their children's Facebook accounts and to require their kids to "friend" parents on Facebook if the students want the privilege of using the Internet. He also said it is important for parents to talk to their children and be involved, knowing who their friends are and what they are dealing with at school.

For Vannah, and parents like her, it is sometimes unclear who they can talk to. She said she reported the incident to the Knox County Sheriff's Office at the hospital and was told this would be in the Waldoboro police jurisdiction. From there, she was further referred to the school resource officer who was not available until the next day when she went to the school.

As of April 9, she said she had not yet been contacted by police for a follow-up about the incident.

Vannah said this is only the most recent in a series of difficulties the family has faced. Most notably, she said her family had to deal with a fire in their apartment building March 18, on Hillside Lane in Warren.

Reached by phone April 8, Superintendent Susan Pratt said she did not have any information about the incident. Calls to school principals were not returned by press time.

Courier Publications News Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at ddunkle@courierpublicationsllc.com or 594-4401 ext. 122.