updated 4/21/2010 4:52:10 PM ET 2010-04-21T20:52:10

A first-grade boy underwent surgery for a skull fracture after an apparent fight with another boy on a school bus in the southern New Mexico city of Las Cruces, a school official and an attorney for the child's family said Wednesday.

The two boys, both in first grade, were riding home April 14 when there was an apparent shoving match and one boy hit his head, said Las Cruces Public Schools spokeswoman Jo Galvan.

"We do not know how he ended up falling yet. ... We just know he was crying when he got off the bus. The driver asked him what happened, and the kid said the other kid pushed him," she said.

The bus driver, following district policy, contacted school officials about a possible injury.

The boy went home after talking with the bus driver, said Joseph Holmes, an attorney for the boy's family. The child started having headaches "and getting very sick," so his parents took him to a hospital, which transferred him to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, Holmes said.

Doctors believe the boy won't have any long-term problems, but it could be six months before he can engage in normal activities because the skull fracture has to heal, Holmes said.

Only the two boys were involved in the fight, Galvan said. Their names were not released because of their age.

"We're still not sure who instigated what, or whether it started at school or just on the bus," Galvan said.

The bus was not equipped with a video camera, she said.

Was bullying a factor?
District officials want to see whether any bullying was involved, but neither boy will be interviewed until the injured child is out of the hospital, she said.

"Even though it's only first grade, it's taken seriously," she said. "Accidents do happen, whether they're meant to or not, with little children. But they have to understand the consequences and the long-term effects bullying can have."

Galvan said she could not give further details because of the possibility of litigation. Galvan said Holmes has contacted district officials.

Holmes said he can't discuss possible litigation and that the family's concern is the child's health.

The New Mexico Public Schools Insurance Authority, which insures the district, has taken over the investigation, Galvan said.

The Las Cruces district instituted an anti-bullying curriculum two years ago. The policy includes name-calling, pushing and similar behavior as bullying and details possible punishment, ranging from a one-day in-school suspension to a year's suspension from class.

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