'He was scared,' Mom says son's bullying led to physical, emotional trauma

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Posted at 11:28 PM, Jun 15, 2022

MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A woman in Madison County is still on a quest for accountability for her son, Braden, 15, who was allegedly physically assaulted by another student at Madison Central High School in March.

"I kind of wanted [the school] to say, 'We're sorry your child got hurt,'" Courtney Horn said. "'What can we do to get him back in school and make it better?'"

LEX 18 met with Horn Wednesday, as her son recovers from surgery to repair his nose, one of several injuries he sustained in the alleged attack.

Braden is not quite ready to speak to cameras, but his mom said it's time to step forward to get the school district's attention.

"Left side of his face was swollen and red"

Horn recounted a Wednesday morning in March when she received a call from an employee at Madison Central High School.

"My first response was 'Braden?'" she recalled. "And she was like, 'Yes, there was an altercation with Braden.'"

When Horn arrived at the school, she saw her son in an office, holding a pack of ice to the left side of his face.

"The left side of his face was very swollen and red," Horn said.

Horn said the principal intercepted Horn when she first walked into the school.

"He said, 'I met with both students and they both agreed that the other child started it,'" she said. "'The other child threw the first punch and both kids agreed upon that.'"

Despite the acknowledgment that Braden did not instigate the fight, he received the same punishment as the other student: a two-day suspension.

Horn said the fight stemmed from months of bullying.

"A lot of intimidation and putdowns," Horn said.

The alleged harassment, though, never turned physical until that morning in March.

"He just approached Braden and Braden said, 'Are we really gonna do this? Like, I don't know you, I don't really wanna do this with you," Horn said. "And the other child proceeded to attack him."

LEX 18 viewed medical documents that confirmed Braden was diagnosed with a concussion, a vitreous detachment of the left eye, maxillary and septum fractures, and other injuries.

"He had nightmares," Horn said of the weeks following the incident. "He was scared to go out."

Horn and her husband pulled Braden out of school for the rest of the year. At home, they waited for a call from Madison Central that they said never came.

"Wanted them to have some compassion"

Horn said she met with Madison Central administrators in April, but she claimed her concerns were met with indifference.

"The comment was made, 'There are 2,200 kids at this school,'" Horn recounted. "'I cannot guarantee everyones' safety.'"

LEX 18 called the central offices of Madison County Schools Monday and Tuesday. Those calls were not returned. When we visited the offices Wednesday, a spokesperson said she could not confirm anything about the alleged incident, citing student privacy concerns. The spokesperson did acknowledge Braden Horn is a student at Madison Central High School.

Frustrated by her meeting in April, Horn said she was able to schedule a meeting with school district administrators in May.

"They acknowledged that the school was at fault and that there should've been supervision in the bathroom," Horn said. "Those kids shouldn't have been out in the hallways."

Horn said the administrators also offered to cover any medical costs for Braden that were not covered by insurance.

An email Horn shared with LEX 18 appeared to show a message from a district administrator, who asked Horn to fill out a student accident form "so we can cover any costs that your insurance will not pick up."

"I never filled it out because I didn't feel like it was fair," Horn explained. "I felt like they were responsible and they should've covered all of it, not just what my insurance wouldn't cover."

Horn also said she and her husband filed a police report after the alleged attack in March. She shared the police report number with LEX 18, which was included in our Open Records request to the Richmond Police Department.

By Kentucky law, the agency has five days to fulfill or deny a request for public records. However, in an email to LEX 18 Wednesday, the records manager for Richmond Police said our requested information "is part of a case that falls into the exempt category under KRS 610.320 (3) as it is a law enforcement record of a juvenile offender."

"Somebody is not doing their job"

Horn said she wanted to share her story with LEX 18 to encourage the school district to address bullying issues.

"We're all supposed to be on the same team," Horn said. "I should not feel like I'm fighting the school board to protect my child."

Horn first posted her story on Facebook earlier this month. She said the responses were overwhelming.

"It was like a wildfire," Horn said.

Soon, Horn was fielding messages and calls from other families with their own stories about bullying at Madison Central High School.

Horn and other parents plan to meet at Madison County Public Library Saturday to discuss their concerns about bullying.

The spokesperson for Madison County Schools told LEX 18 that the district has been made aware of the meeting through posts on social media.

"I do my job," Horn said. "And I feel like that somebody there is not doing their job to keep my child safe when he's there."