EAST BRUNSWICK — Parents upset that their seventh-grade daughter was punished for punching a boy after he startled her in school appealed all the way to the state commissioner of education — and lost.

The incident in question happened in September 2016 when a sixth-grade boy, who admitted to wanting to frighten the girl, reported to school officials that he had been punched in the arm and kicked in the groin.

The incident was caught on the school's security footage and the girl was given one day of in-school suspension.

The parents of the girl requested the issue be investigated under the district's harassment and bullying policy.  The school determined that no bullying was committed by either student, but upheld the girl's punishment.

The girl's family argued to an administrative law judge that that the boy "threw a quick punch" that did not make contact with the girl but was enough to cause an "fight or flight instinctive" reaction.

An administrative law judge ruled in January of this year that the district was right to suspend the student, and the state commissioner agreed in a decision reached this month. The commissioner also agreed to not have the discipline expunged.

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