The story of seven-year-old Jeremy Tsou, who suffered a skull fracture and multiple areas of brain bleeding, has been shared over 14,000 times on Facebook—largely because of discrepancies in how the incident is being explained, according to his parents Eli Tsou and Jenny Yang.
Jeremy received the head injury on May 19 at Baldwin Stocker Elementary School in Arcadia, California, where it was initially recorded in two different documents that another child pushed Jeremy, Tsou and Yang said.
But a week later, Tsou and Yang said the Arcadia Unified School District completed an investigation, allegedly concluding that Jeremy's injuries were caused when he tripped over a pencil.
Tsou and Yang told NBC News they were shocked at the change in story.
After the initial incident had occurred in May, Tsou and Yang said they received at least two documents signed by the district nurse and principal that Jeremy had been pushed. According to Jeremy, he was on the ground for five to 10 minutes before he was able to walk to the nurse's office.
Jeremy also said the student who allegedly tripped him also apologized, but Jeremy didn't feel the apology was sincere. "The boy that tripped me came back again in the office and then now he is laughing about what he did," Jeremy said in an audio recording.
That evening, Tsou and Yang said Jeremy explained the incident to them and said another kid had stuck his leg in between Jeremy’s legs, causing him to trip and bang his head on a seat before hitting the ground. Tsou and Yang inquired about the kid’s behavior in class, to which Jeremy responded that the child “wasn’t always nice to other kids” in the past.
When asked about why Jeremy hadn’t brought up concerns with the specific child before, Tsou and Yang said Jeremy told them that “nothing ever gets done about it anyways.”
The next morning after the incident, Tsou and Yang said Jeremy woke up vomiting and screaming from severe headaches. Alarmed, they brought him to the hospital where he was sent to the ICU.
Jeremy underwent several hours of brain surgery and stayed in the hospital for the next five days, Tsou and Yang said. He missed the rest of the school year and remained under physical restriction for the summer.
Ryan Foran, Public Information Officer for the Arcadia Unified School District, told NBC News that the original two documents stating that another child pushed Jeremy were inaccurately documented. Foran said that the first head injury report created on May 19 was written down by the nurse and based on Jeremy's teachers words. But following the district's investigation, Foran said it was determined that Jeremy's teacher had not witnessed the incident.
Tsou and Yang said they have met with the school principal, the assistant superintendent, and the superintendent to receive clarification on what happened, but they say nothing credible has been shared and that attempts to meet with the family of the child who allegedly tripped Jeremy have been unsuccessful.
Since the incident, the school district requested two separate investigations—one by the school and the other by the school district. Both investigations concluded that Jeremy tripped over a pencil. Once Tsou and Yang discovered that Jeremy's account was not documented in either of the investigations, they requested a third investigation by the Arcadia Police Department to have an audio recording of Jeremy's own words.
The police department reported no findings of criminal conduct, and Tsou and Yang said they agreed that they never suspected criminal conduct. However, Tsou and Yang argue that it is the school's duty to suspect and address misbehavior in the classroom, not the police department.
Six months after the incident, Tsou and Yang say they refuse to accept the school district's story. The two have brought their concerns to multiple board meetings with the school, but say the school voted to make no changes to the investigation’s findings.
Tsou and Yang created a Facebook page on Oct. 23 to raise awareness about Jeremy’s story. They say they also want to hold school systems accountable and work to make schools a safer environment for everyone. The page has received thousands of likes and shares—a testament to the shared experience of being bullied, Tsou said.
“The unwillingness of the administration and some community members to acknowledge the patterns of disrespect [and bullying] that go on with the kids and the adults that oversee them will enable ongoing and escalating rude and dangerous behaviors,” he said.
Tsou and Yang say they plan to continue speaking up about the issue in an effort to keep community discussions going. “We want to make this a good learning experience,” Yang said. “What could be done to prevent something like this from happening against another child and from another family having to go through the system [like we did]?”
The family is currently waiting to hear back from the school board about a request submitted on Oct. 30 to place their concerns on the agenda for a Nov. 10 Board Meeting.