“When we got there, it looked like she had been mauled by a bear or something”
School says it is “very, very concerned about the well-being of the child”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — When Sherman Campbell took his 14-month-old daughter, Samara Campbell, to school last Wednesday, he could not have imagined that hours later, his precious little girl would be repeatedly bitten and then left on the floor of her K-1 classroom, balled up and lying in her own blood.
That’s what Campbell and his fiancée Vanessa Carey, Samara’s parents, were told allegedly happened to their daughter at Rhema Preparatory Academy.
She was purportedly assaulted by a one-year-old classmate after the teacher had left students unattended.
Campbell said that last Wednesday, the school called Carey to say that Samara had been “bitten on both of her cheeks” and needed to be taken to a doctor.
Carey told Eyewitness News: “Well, honestly, when I first got the call and they said she was bitten by another one-year-old, I assumed it was like maybe one or two bites and they just wanted us to pick her up.
“On the way to the school, they called and said that she needed to be taken to the medical center, then we were like: ‘For a bite?’”
Campbell said that upon seeing their daughter’s ravaged appearance, he and his fiancée realized that the school had “downplayed the bite”, with Samara having swollen cheeks and sustaining other noticeable injuries from the alleged attack.
“Her cheeks were completely swollen; she had blood and pus coming out of her cheeks; there were bite marks on her face, fingers [and] elbows; and she had two big marks on her back,” he said.
Carey added: “There were some [bites] on her forehead, in her eye, on her cheeks, her chin and her lip — like someone tried to bite her lip.
“When we got there, it looked like she had been mauled by a bear or something.”
Samara’s injuries were so severe that she was turned away from the clinic and her parents had to take her to her pediatrician.
The pediatrician was allegedly in so much shock upon seeing the child’s injuries that she called the school herself to verify how the incident occurred, asserting that “this [behavior] was not normal for a one-year-old” to have committed.
Samara’s parents said they are still unsure of the extent of her injuries and whether she sustained permanent injuries from the incident.
Both parents have expressed discontent with the school’s response to the incident and claimed there are discrepancies between what the school said happened to their daughter versus what seems to be true.
Noting that they have since taken Samara out of the school, Campbell and Carey told Eyewitness News that no one from the school accompanied the family during the doctor visit and that the school has not reached out to the family to check in on Samara.
“We haven’t heard anything from anybody yet,” Campbell said.
“We haven’t heard from the police; we haven’t heard from the school; we haven’t heard from even their lawyer.”
Although the school has taken punitive action by expelling the purported one-year-old culprit and dismissing the teacher, a move the parents said they pushed for, they still insist that further action should be taken.
Campbell said: “If a parent abandons their child in the house by themselves, then they would be charged, right?
“So, you abandon a group of one-year-olds in a room by themselves — I think the teacher should be charged.”
However, a spokesperson for Rhema Preparatory Academy told Eyewitness News: “We were communicating with [the parents] from the incident took place.
“We called them immediately. We had a staff member reach out to them while our on-staff nurse was taking the baby to the doctor.
“We met with the parents following the incident.
“We communicated with them at that time, letting them know that we will take full responsibility of all medical expenses associated with the incident, and to that, they agreed at that time.”
The spokesperson insisted that the school is “very, very sorry that the event happened” and claimed it has kept communicating with Samara’s parents since the incident but “at some point, they stopped communicating with us”.
“We are very, very concerned about the child, and the well-being of the child,” the spokesperson said.
Written by Eyewitness News Intern Gabrielle Sterling