Photo credit East Brunswick Patch

A fight between two teen girls at East Brunswick High was referred to the Middlesex County Prosecutor. (East Brunswick school district)

By Carly Baldwin, The Patch

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ — Updated April 12 at 12:43 pm – East Brunswick police and the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office investigated and the teen who allegedly pulled another teen’s headscarf has now been charged with simple assault and cyber harassment. She was not, however, charged with a bias or hate crime, although the investigation continues.

The alleged fight originated Wednesday morning in a student lounge at East Brunswick High School and it started when two teen girls began arguing over a seat, said East Brunswick schools superintendent Dr. Victor Valeski. This was before classes started for the day. The verbal disagreement escalated into a physical fight and both girls got physical with each other, said Valeski.

One of the girls involved is Muslim and wears a traditional head covering. In the course of the altercation, the other teen pulled that teen’s headscarf off, he said. She also made a comment that referenced the other girl’s Muslim religion.

“An assault is when one person is attacked. This was not an assault, it was a fight,” said the superintendent. “One student initiated the fight and I don’t want to identify which student it was. Words were exchanged and it escalated. However, things were stated during this fight that are beyond what the district considers acceptable.”

Valeski said he did not personally witness the fight and his assessment of the scenario was confirmed by East Brunswick High School principal Dr. Michael Vinella. Both men spoke on the phone to Patch Thursday morning about the incident.

After the altercation, the girl who pulled the other teen’s headscarf took to Instagram to continue the feud, taunting the other teen. A post shared by a parent in an East Brunswick Facebook group shows the teen saying “That’s ok, b****, because your raghead a** got your a** beat.” It’s unconfirmed if that was posted by the teen in question.

As is required by law, Valeski referred the case to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate. Valeski said he is required to report any incidents of possible hate or bias crimes to the police.

East Brunswick police and the county prosecutor quickly investigated, and announced Thursday afternoon that the girl who pulled the headscarf has been criminally charged. She charged with simple assault, harassment, cyber harassment and disorderly conduct.

She was not charged with a bias or hate crime. However the county prosecutor “continues to investigate the incident pursuant to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s Bias Incident Investigation Standards,” said a spokeswoman for the prosecutor.

The teen who had her headscarf pulled was not charged with any wrongdoing.

Both girls have since been disciplined by the school district and neither girl is in school on Thursday, said the superintendent. He said he was not at liberty to speak more about their punishments, as they are both minors under the age of 18. However, contrary to rumors circulating online, neither girl has lost privileges to walk at graduation this spring.

Several students posted video of the fight to social media, and Valeski said they are being identified by the district and will be disciplined. He said all East Brunswick public school students sign a waiver agreeing they will not broadcast video of fights to social media, because it violates student privacy.