Family sues MCPS after son fractures skull in fight at Magruder High
Lawsuit says school district negligent in preventing, responding to altercation
The family of a Col. Zadok Magruder High School student is suing the school system after he sustained a fractured skull and was hospitalized for several days after a fight last year.
On Feb. 12, 2019, then-freshman Jacob Van Dyken was involved in a fight with a classmate. The fight — which was recorded by several students who had gathered around the duo to watch — resulted in Van Dyken spending several days at Children’s National Medical Center. He had a fractured skull and at least one blood clot, according to reports from his family.
The family alleges school officials did not call an ambulance for Van Dyken, even though he showed “obvious” signs of trauma, including bleeding from the head and vomiting. Van Dyken had also defecated and urinated on himself as a result of the head injury, according to court documents.
The student with whom he fought allegedly took a photo of Van Dyken’s soiled clothing and posted it to social media, “much to (Van Dyken’s) embarrassment.”
Van Dyken was taken to the school nurse’s office, who called his parents. Van Dyken’s parents rushed to the school and took him to Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, according to court documents. He was later transferred to Children’s National Medical Center, where he spent several days in the intensive care unit.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Montgomery County Circuit Court, says school officials were negligent in not preventing the fight or appropriately intervening when they noticed tensions were escalating between the two boys.
It further alleges that the resource officer assigned to the school had called in sick, but there was no fill-in officer at the school on the day of the fight.
The lawsuit says Van Dyken suffered injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life, and asks for compensation “in excess of $75,000.”
Neither an attorney representing the family nor representatives of the school system could immediately be reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.
At the time of the fight, MCPS spokesman Derek Turner told reporters that the school’s nurse “engaged in the appropriate practices after the student altercation was broken up” and that school security and the medical staff responded appropriately.
In a letter to community members at the time, Principal Leroy Evans said he was disappointed some students “chose to watch and encourage the classmates to engage in this destructive behavior.”
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org