The story of Montravious Thomas and how the 13-year-old seventh grader lost his leg has inspired poignant headlines and unanswered questions around the globe, and when exclusive video recorded by school surveillance cameras was posted on this site on Oct. 23 awareness exploded.
It isn’t a pretty story.
Thinking about a teen-ager living his or her life without a leg is sad. Thinking about the horrible events that occurred on Sept. 12 and how the Muscogee County School District continues to sidestep the issue is deplorable.
For the city of Columbus and the school system this is a public relations nightmare. Governments and chambers of commerce prefer to send out happy news releases about visitors getting soaking wet on a whitewater rafting course or brag about tourists zipping high across the Chattahoochee River.
Educators like to point out high-ranking high schools and honor graduates attending Ivy League institutions.
This is not one of those stories.
The idea that a teacher — make that a private contractor — might harm a troubled student makes a parent cringe. The suggestion that a group of faculty and staff would fail to call an ambulance and bodily tote a youngster to a school bus that would take him home is hard to swallow. A situation where school officials would seek deniability of injury when video clips suggest otherwise can not be explained.
Since the incident, the school district has listened to its law firm rather than their collective hearts. After the injury his mother wasn’t reached on the telephone yet no one called 911 or rode with Thomas on the bus trip home.
No one in the school district has called to check on the student or his mother after nearly two months and five operations at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta with the prospect of several more weeks of treatment and therapy.
Attorneys are busy and so are news reporters.
Traditional outlets such as newspapers and television stations have been reporting. Digital sites such as this one have spread the story and so has the world of social media, starting with Facebook and Twitter. Comment boards that accompany the individual stories have posted hundreds of replies offering prayers and a barrage of questions about how this could have happened. Some sites, such as the one shown above, were totally misinformed.
When new articles are posted on this site online records are broken. The story is that compelling. Even talk show hosts are reaching out. On one occasion, heavy internet traffic because of the school video crashed All On Georgia’s home server. News services — including a couple of outlets in Great Britain — have asked for permission to use that surveillance video.
Eventually the student and his family will file a hefty lawsuit. Original legal papers presented on Sept 29 dropped a figure of $5 million. The amputation of Montravious Thomas’ right leg means that figure will be amended greatly.
But this story isn’t about money, lawyers or judges. It’s about a child and his leg. And that must not be forgotten.