I-TEAM EXCLUSIVE: Principal, teacher on leave after girl's beating in Pinole classroom caught on camera

PINOLE, Calif. (KGO) -- A 12-year-old girl, attacked in an East Bay school, says her classmate has been bullying her for months. After the I-Team's Dan Noyes demanded answers this week about the school's handling of the case, the district has now suspended the principal and the teacher in that classroom.

We know how serious bullying can be. In fact, on the same day as that attack in Pinole, a 10-year-old girl was beaten in South Carolina and died from her injuries two days later.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with bullying and teen mental health

What sets this attack apart from others we've seen is the teacher's response. At the beginning of the video, you can see Stewart Elementary's 7th-grade history teacher, Jeremy Cooper, raising his hands and walking away.

7th Grader Valeria Delao told Dan Noyes, "I was really shocked that he didn't do anything because most teachers go and try to stop it, but he didn't do anything."

The beating that 12-year-old Valeria suffered continued for 40 seconds until a PE teacher came to her aid.

"She called me and told me, 'Mom, she hit me,'" said Carla Gamboa, Valeria's mother.

Valeria's mother rushed to the school, saw her daughter's bruises, and took her to the hospital for evaluation. Thankfully, no serious injuries. The enormity of what happened didn't really sink in, until she saw that video the next day. It circulated among students and on social media.

"I never thought I would see my child having to go through this," said Gamboa.

Valeria added, "It made me sad that my mom was crying."

Gamboa tells us she first complained to the school five months ago about her daughter being bullied-- describing the teasing about Valeria's height, her hair, her friends-- even during class.

"I couldn't focus," said Valeria. "I want to learn and not just always hear her talking about me saying stuff."

The mom started keeping a list of alleged incidents and says the pressure on Valeria escalated when the other student sang an obscene diss track, posted on Instagram. The girl sang, "Oh, she's a ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho."

Gamboa wants people to see the video. She's a school bus driver herself. Gamboa tells the I-Team after she complained to the West Contra Costa County Unified School District again, the bullying stopped for a while. Then came the classroom beating on March 25. She confronted Principal Peter Aloo.

Gamboa told Dan Noyes, "I said, 'Now what are you gonna do? I told you last time, that I wanted to avoid something like this to happen. And it was just a matter of time.' He goes, 'I don't know, I can't tell you what I'm gonna do,' and I was like, 'Are you serious?"

Gamboa kept Valeria home for two weeks, and she tells me the school never called to check on her daughter or to provide makeup work. So, the I-Team went to the school this week, and with their parent's permission, spoke with students who were there during the attack.

Cierra Connelly told us, "She started beating her back and everything, her head, pulling her hair and stuff."

"I just thought it was crazy, like stupid," said Isaac Johnson. "Why do you need to fight her?"

Maddox Krashna added, "Val was trying to avoid the fight, but she got beat up really bad."

Principal Aloo and the teacher, Jeremy Cooper, would not come out to discuss what happened. The I-Team waited for hours and they left without us seeing them. We returned the next day to find the principal's parking space empty and to watch Valeria return to school. Her mother met with a district official.

Dan Noyes asked, "Was there an apology?"

Gamboa answered, "Definitely, they accepted they dropped the ball."

The school district told the I-Team they would email a statement about the case, but Dan Noyes went to the headquarters to press for an interview and caught Superintendent Matt Duffy coming out of a meeting.

"We are certainly disturbed by what happened in that classroom," he said. "And we've taken disciplinary action, both the principal and teacher are on administrative leave at this time which should give you some idea how we feel the handling of the situation went."

The family has obtained a temporary restraining order. A judge ordered the alleged bully to have no contact with Valeria, and to stay three yards away from her. But they both still go to the same school.

We've been unable to reach the other family in this story. Valeria's mom filed a police report and wants to press charges, and is talking to a lawyer about suing the school.

Take a look at for a look at more stories by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.
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