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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bullying Part III: Punish or Honor? 18yr Old Student Punished for Defending Bullied Special Needs Girl

Punish or Honor This Student Who Came to defense of Special Needs Student?

 You Be the Judge

Thought for the Day: You be the judge. What grade would you give to this school system's handling of a report of bullying of a special needs student on a school bus? Today I saw yet another Huffington Post news story that raises serious questions about what is happening in our schools. Click on the link above, to view a 3 minute video news story about a student who has been punished for taking a stand against bullying.  Stormy Rich, an 18 year old honors student from Umatilla High School in Florida, reported daily bullying of a special needs student that was occurring on a middle school bus. Stormy was on the bus as a special privilege to miss the first period of her high school classes. The Middle School special needs student, according to Stormy Rich, "couldn't comprehend what was being done to her. "Just because she doesn't understand doesn't mean that should be happening to her," Rich told WOFL-TV." Stormy complained to the bus driver & reported the abuse to the High School authorities, but nothing was done to stop the bullying. Finally, the teen stood up to the bullies & told them to stop.  In response, the school district revoked Rich's bus-riding privileges, saying Rich exhibited bullying behavior. School officials are standing behind their response, telling WOFL-TV that "two wrongs don't make a right." Rich says she's being punished for following school policy, which calls on students to report any bullying they witness.

How can we expect students to come forward & take a stand against bullies when nothing is done to stop the bullying & they then become targets for punishment? Although the school says this is just one side of the story, it seems that if the bus driver or the school system had intervened, Rich would not have needed to take a stand. Post a comment & I will make sure your comments are forwarded to Lake County Schools communications officer Christopher Patton.


Anonymous said...

That schools policy of punishing the girl who reported the bullying is a joke. what kind of an ass thought that was good policy. as a parent of a special needs student who uses school transport-i pray for good people like her to report any abuse-but because of this school and their stupid assenine decision-this is not likely to SO mad after reading this.

Barbara Lavi said...

Yes, Anonymous, it is upsetting to see how this school system handled the report. Parents need to use their anger to start a conversation with school administrators. Show them this post, ask them what they would do if someone reported this kind of bullying on a bus or in the school yard. Ask for a PTA meeting to address this issue with all parents. Work to get programs in place that will teach children about special needs & tolerance. Set up internships programs where children act as teacher's aides for with special needs students. Require that all bus drivers be trained to handle bullying situations. Please share any ideas you may have to help remedy these types of situations...

jkraemer said...

Would suppose the school addressed what they might have perceived a form of vigilantism. The Civil War was no tea party in some boardroom. It was a vicious rebellion against the status quo in The South. There is no anger more dangerous than that from the skilled civil when provoked to violence. When official policy persistently fails and a child continues to be harmed, at what point must the civil intervene? The child reported to all official resources and nothing was done. For weeks and months nothing was done. Her concern balanced by her restraint to intervene on her own seemed most concerned to follow policy. Now a retired school bus driver would suppose that I was an arrogant driver. Intervention in bullying was immediate on my school bus. An unruly child could expect an immediate escort off the bus and to the school office to explain their behavior while the rest of us went home on schedule. No fights in over a decade to and from school, and bullying was rare as well. At first such bus driver action was against school policy, was nearly fired over the skill of protecting my bus environment. A new district management style changed the expectations on the buses, supporting bus driver authority to immediately have violators escorted off the bus. Would suppose that change for better or worse can sometimes involve a rebellion of sorts from civil adults and kids alike. In my case it was for the better. After retirement was invited, and assigned helping with our district's school bus safety program. When unruly children overwhelm a bus driver, they send me to help the driver reestablish his or her authority on that bus. There is no retirement age for helping keep kids safe.

Barbara Lavi said...

Thank you JKraemer for your comments. I agree with you! Concerned citizens need to come forward whether they have children in the school system or not. I also feel that schools can train bus drivers to intervene & stop inappropriate behavior as soon as it arises. Not intervening sends a message that it is all right to bully. Keeping all kids safe is a societal responsibility of all adult citizens. I will send this comment to the Florida school system. DrB