Durham mom wants to press charges after nonverbal son with autism attacked at school


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Durham mom says a student assaulted her son – who is nonverbal and has autism – at school, but she claims the school hasn’t done anything to keep her son safe and she won’t send him back until that changes.

Corbin Chonillio has autism and is nonverbal, so he can’t tell his mom when he’s getting picked on.

But his mother says a few months ago, her son changed and she believes that’s when the bullying began.

She says she brought her concerns to the school back in February and, according to her, nothing was done.

The 11-year-old is a sixth grader at Lucas Middle School. His mom, Jennifer, says her son used to love going to school – but not anymore.

“He had come home every single day really upset,” said Jennifer Chonillo. “He would cry for maybe an hour and he would be like inconsolable and I had no clue what was wrong.”

Corbin can’t tell his mom what’s going on but she knew something was wrong when he started fighting to get on the school bus in the morning.

So she brought her concerns to the school’s principal.

“He basically said I was being irrational and it’s just the stress of school but I know my son and he’s usually very happy and he usually likes to go to school,” Jennifer Chonillo said of her conversation with the principal.

On Thursday afternoon, Jennifer Chonillo says she got a call from the principal.

“He tells me that my son was walking in the lunchroom and a student punched him in the face and then kind of pummeled him and Corbin had gotten knocked on the ground,” Jennifer Chonillo said.

She says the principal called her hours after the incident had happened.

She told the principal she wanted to press charges against the student involved.

“He said, ‘Oh but it’s just kids being kids.’”

Jennifer Chonillo claims the principal won’t tell her who the student is or if her son would have to interact with him in the future, so she’s kept him home the past two school days.

“I’m not gonna send him back until they tell me that my sons safe and this is not gonna happen again,” she said.

Jennifer Chonillo says she filed a police report and reached out to the school board.

Chonillo said, “I don’t think I should have to email pretty much every single politician in the state to get them to even care. They should take attacks on children that are disabled a little bit more seriously because it’s not just kids being kids. It’s bullying and it’s like toeing the line of a hate crime.”

CBS 17 reached out to Durham Public Schools for comment.

The district says they are aware of the allegations and are investigating.

They told CBS 17 they can’t comment further at this time because of federal laws that protect the privacy of students.

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