By Jericka Duncan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Lisselox Veloz has a 3.0 grade point average and school officials say she has never been in trouble before, but last week the 16-year-old was arrested and suspended from Swenson Arts and Technology High School.
“Everyone knows about,” said Veloz. “It’s not like anything new to nobody.”
Veloz said after months of being bullied, she took matters into her own hands. The sophomore, who aspires to be a detective one day, brought a paring knife to school. A metal detector caught it and Lisselox was arrested by Philadelphia police and suspended for five days.
“I know that it was wrong to have it, but I felt like I needed something to protect myself because I know what she’s capable of,” Veloz expressed.
Lisselox said she alerted a dean at the school, several months ago, that she was being bullied. According to a spokesperson from the school district, they didn’t know there was a problem until recently.
“We only knew about her bullying case after the incident that occurred in the neighborhood,” said Philadelphia School District Spokesperson Fernando Gallard.
According to Lisselox, her bully followed her home from school on April 10th, wanting to fight.
Lisselox said she ignored the girl, made it inside her home and called her mother at work to tell her what happened.
District officials say due to the incident that happened outside of school involving Lisselox, the bully was suspended for five days. But the day the bully came back to school, Lisselox explained she grew scared.
She decided to bring the paring knife to school the next day, for protection.
“It is disturbing to have a student feel like they must bring a weapon into school to feel safe,” said Gallard.
An action plan is now in place. Lisselox’s mother has obtained an attorney because her daughter still faces being transferred to an alternative school.
Lisselox’s aunt said all of this could have been avoided if school officials listened to her niece’s complaints.
“People need to take this more seriously and not look at is as ‘oh, kids will be kids,’” said the victim’s aunt Janet Fabian.
“I truly believe that we have to do a better job of making sure students know that we are there and available for them,” said Gallard.
Veloz’s attorney Steven Barrett recommends sending any complaints to school officials in an email, so there is an undisputed record of what was said.
“You do have to not only show up to the office, but in some way shape or form, even if it’s just handwriting a note, you need to get a copy,” said Barrett. “Without the documentation the school district will often take a look at the file and say there’s nothing here.”