Bully's taped attack on Web

Disabled Logan youth was beaten in school; mom infuriated

Gereka Bracey, at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. Her son Diontay Boone was bullied and taped at the school. (Jessica Griffin / Philadelphia Daily News)

The seven-second video clip is short but sickening: A boy sprawled on the floor of a school classroom struggles to get up as a bigger boy pounces on his head.

Laughing maniacally into the camera, the fully clothed attacker repeatedly rubs his crotch on his victim's head, which is jammed face-down into the floor. As the youth finishes his assault, the cell phone camera pans jerkily away, showing several people - including an adult-sized figure - standing nearby.

Gereka Bracey, of Logan, was horrified to find the grainy, black-and-white video clip on her son's MySpace page this week.

But her horror grew to outrage when she found that the victim in the video was her son - 12-year-old Diontay Boone - and that the video had been maliciously posted on Diontay's own MySpace page by his attackers after they persuaded the mentally and physically disabled boy to give them his password. The videographer also posted the clip on YouTube.

The humiliating clip capped five months of torment that started in September with bullies' dubbing Diontay "dummy-slow" and escalated to near-daily taunting, schoolyard assaults and the theft of Diontay's winter coat on a recent frigid, snowy day.

But the bullies who posted their ambush online crossed the line, a furious Bracey said yesterday.

"It really bothers me because not only did they do this to my son, but they victimize him again and again and again every time anybody views that video," said Bracey, who also reported the incident to the Police Department's special victims unit.

School district spokesman Fernando Gallard said the two eighth-graders responsible for the Dec. 4 assault at the Thurgood Marshall School, in Olney, have been suspended and may face additional discipline pending the outcome of a district investigation.

"We would consider this to be cyber-bullying," Gallard said, adding that the students also violated school rules prohibiting electronic devices in classrooms.

The science teacher who was in the classroom when the attack occurred has been removed from teaching duties and may face disciplinary action, Gallard said.

"We see a failure to supervise. We are investigating whether the teacher was paying attention or not," Gallard said.

Diontay will be permitted to transfer schools, he added.

While Bracey welcomed such measures, she complained that they were woefully overdue and came after months of indifference to her pleas for help.

"I've been out to the school at least 10 times, when he's been beat or harassed," Bracey said. "But I know it happened way more than that - Tay-Tay got so adjusted to being harassed at school that he don't come home and tell me no more, because after awhile, he got harassed for his mother coming to school too."

Diontay doesn't like to talk about the bullying, saying only that he believes that he's victimized because "they bigger than me."

Diontay, - known as "Tay-Tay" to his family - spent his early grades in Virginia. He was a special-education student diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded, autistic and partially deaf. His public school in Virginia provided hearing-assistance devices and tailored lessons to accommodate his mental deficiencies, helping him make the honor roll last year, Bracey said.

When the family relocated to Philadelphia last year, Bracey wanted Diontay placed at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Germantown but said she had been told that he wasn't "deaf enough."

Gallard said he couldn't comment on Diontay's disabilities or placement, for privacy reasons. But Linda Williams, executive director of the district's Office of Specialized Services, said every school has a hearing therapist.

Hearing-impaired students generally are placed where their needs can be met; for example, Abraham Lincoln High School and Joseph Leidy School, an elementary school, have entire wings devoted to deaf students.

At Thurgood Marshall, Diontay struggles academically, because he doesn't get needed support, Bracey said.

The seventh-grader functions at a second-grade level, she said.

Principal Edward Penn couldn't be reached yesterday for comment.

The family has been working with St. Christopher's Hospital for Children to get the hearing-aid devices Diontay needs, but insurance paperwork and bureaucratic snafus have kept the gear out of their hands, she added.

Diontay's abuse at the hands of thuggish classmates only made his school struggles more painful, his mother said.

She has considered sending him back to Virginia to live with relatives to escape his school problems here.

"He's just very vulnerable," Bracey said.

"He wants to just be friends with everybody, and they take advantage of that.

" It's wrong." *