By Kelly Moore-Chesney
A mother who we will call Jane for the protection of her and her daughter recently shared her story with us.
Just before the shut down to in-person learning, Jane's daughter's behavior changed significantly. Her daughter who we will call Beth, began to express a reluctance in going to school. After tedious time spent trying to get her daughter to explain Jane was understanding her daughter was in fear of attending school. Although Beth told her mom of one particular problem on the bus, there always seem like there was more to it. Beth had told her mom she was ridiculed one day for wearing a rainbow face mask. She explained a girl told her she could not wear rainbow colors because she was not LGBQ.
Jane went out and bought Beth a new mask to make her feel better but Beth still insisted on not riding the bus.
Beth told her mom there was a problem one day with a student being late catching the bus and it caused them to reroute to the high school. What ever the reason behind, this caused the children on her daughters bus to change buses. It then became to the point that Jane's daughter didn't want to ride the bus at all.
This soon progressed to Beth not wanting to go to school at all. Jane was unable at this point to communicate with her daughter about the reason behind all of this behavior changes.
Beth is 12 years old. Adolescence is a difficult time in a child's life. It is a time of changes, confusion and often a withdrawal from the parent child relationship.
On Thursday ( November 11th) Jane over heard a conversation with her daughter and a friend, and she discovered the reason for her daughters fear. Jane heard her daughter discuss being frightened and not feeling safe because some one had threatened to her life.Someone had threatened to "put a bullet" in the back of her head.
Taken by surprise and shock Jane went to the following morning to her daughter's school. Jane spent two and a-half hours with the school to find out two of Beth's friends had gone to the office and reported this threat on her daughters life. The two friends had reported this either Wednesday or Thursday before the in-person learning closure. Jane was told the administration then called Beth into the office. They asked Beth to pick out pictures of the girls from a book. Jane told us she was furious that no time during any of this did the school officials contact her. Not when they learned of the incident and not when they called her daughter into the office. They replied to Jane that the school assumed she knew. Jane's asked them "why did you just assume, this is a death threat on my daughters life, why did you not call?" She also asked them why they called in her daughter to question her without her knowledge or consent. Jane told us she did not get an answer.
They school administration told Jane they did hear about this, but they did not ask the two friends if they could identify the girl making the threats. They also did not ask the two friends if they had witnessed this or if it was told to them by Beth.
Jane states the school had made no effort in trying to identify the girl the entire time the shutdown was going on. She tells us this had happened on October 5th or 7th and the school put it on the back burner. She went on to inform us the school had not made contact with the bus driver because they felt it would blow over.
They did ask Beth if she felt comfortable getting on the bus and casually asking the driver if her knew the name of the girl who had threatened her, and then bring the name back to the principle. Jane was livid as she explained how she felt the school put Beth in further danger.
After leaving, that night Jane received a call from the assistant principle. The assistant principle informed Jane, she had spoken with the bus driver and he had told her he knew of two girls fitting that description and she would get back with Jane on Monday.
Mondays call came and Jane was told they had identified the girl and she was an eighth grader. The assistant Principle told Jane she was going to follow regular protocol. Regular protocol would be a day of class suspension and the child would have to write a report on why it is better to be nice. However the assistant principle told Jane that was not going to happen because there was another issue with the same child that day. She went on to say she knows this child has an anger issues and she lashes out at people. She explained is could have just been that Beth had bumped into her, or maybe Beth looked at her when she was mad. Jane replied so Beth's emotions do not matter because this other child has issues. The Assistant principle told Jane she doesn't want it to sound that way, but there are allot of children we have to deal with the best we can within guidelines. She went on to tell Jane that the best solution would be to solve the bus issue, because the girls probably would not see each other during school due to one being in 7th grade and the other in 8th grade.
Jane asked if they knew why this girl targeted her daughter. The assistant principle told explained again, maybe just the case that she looked at her wrong or someone bumped into her, or she was late to the bus and Beth was there so she just lashed out at her.
Jane replied to her they needed to figure out something that doesn't damage everyone else because this child is having a bad day. She went on to tell her you cant take away fun and security from other students because behavior problems with one child.
Jane told us she received another call on Wednesday (Nov.17th). She was told they couldn't do anything as far as scheduling or moving Beth to a pod with more friends so she might feel safer, but they would be monitoring things better.
Jane is now searching the materials needed to home-school Beth. She will not be returning to public school. She feels with all the talk about bullying and be kind the Cortez Middle School is failing. The focus on protecting our children and giving them a safe place to learn seems geared to the LGBQ children and the other children get lost in the efforts. All children should be provided a safe place to learn. The protocol for when a child feels unsafe is they are assigned an adult to go to, and given a safety plan. It would seem there was no so called safety plan for Beth. Shouldn't every adult protect our children? Shouldn't every child feel safe?