So typical. It is a story we have heard time and time again. The bullying is reported over and over and the school refuses to lift a finger to stop it. Finally either a hero or the victim raises a big enough stink about it, so the school bureaucrats rush in to punish and silence the victim or the one reporting it. After all if no one reports it than technically they have a bully free school!
This is why school administrators have protected bullies for years and continue to do so. Occasionally a victim snaps and kills the bully or kills themselves, and that is when the school starts scrubbing records and labels everyone who new the bullying was happening a liar.
We have said it many, many times, by and large it seems that only the most incompetent people manage to get jobs as school administrators. This story is example 2, 348, 812 of why this is true.
THERESA CAMPBELL | Staff Writer
“Caution: This campus is 100 percent against bullying. Speak out,” reads a sign outside Umatilla High School, and one senior said she did speak out and has been punished for doing so.
Stormy Rich, 18, thought she was doing the right thing in reporting bullying incidents she witnessed against a mentally-challenged middle school girl by a group of girls on morning bus rides to school.
“I’m a very outspoken person,” Rich said. “I stick up for what I feel is right. In the school code of conduct handbook, it is clearly stated that bullying is a non-tolerable offense.”
Rich was riding that middle school bus because she earned enough credits to avoid having to take a first-period high school class and an earlier high school bus. The two schools are only a few blocks away.
Rich — who said she felt compelled to speak out because the girl couldn’t even comprehend she was being pick on — first complained to the bus driver but the bullying continued. She then complained to a high school official, who said he would contact the middle school, but nothing changed.
“I would sit on the bus every single day and see the bullying was still going on and nothing was being done,” Rich said. “It was aggravating.”
The senior demanded the bullies stop, which worked for a while. She said they then began threatening her, even though she complained about this to school personnel on almost a daily basis for about two weeks. The mother and daughter even contacted police.
“Enough is enough,” Rich said in her written complaint. “Something should be done.”
That something was a letter sent to Rich’s mother, Brenda, on May 4, saying her daughter was kicked off the middle school bus. A district school official said Rich displayed bullying behavior in her comments.
“She said what I did made me the bully, with me telling the kids that if they didn’t stop, and if the school didn’t do anything, that I would have to handle it,” Rich said. “To me, it was just going too far.”
According to Christopher Patton, communications officer for Lake County Schools, a courtesy had been extended to Rich to ride the middle school bus.
“Due to circumstances on the bus, the privileges were revoked,” he said.
Patton said he could not discuss the bullying complaints filed by Rich or her mother. He also could not say if any action was taken about those complaints.
“I can’t comment about student discipline, unfortunately,” Patton said. “I think you’re heading down a dangerous path because you’ve got one side of the story. … There are other parents that are involved in this.”
Asked if the district had additional complaints on the issue, Patton replied: “Just this one parent.”
“My daughter was punished incorrectly,” said Brenda Rich. “Stormy was standing up for a child with emotionally challenged disabilities that should not have been bullied. The district’s policy clearly states that anybody in good faith files a report on bullying will not face any repercussions and she is.”
Brenda Rich said she has met the bullied student and the young girl does not comprehend sarcasm or even understand what “hate” means. She views everybody as her “friend.”
“Just because she doesn’t understand what people are doing to her is wrong, it doesn’t mean its OK,” said Brenda Rich, who questions if the schools’ anti-bullying policies are really working.
“…This child doesn’t have the ability to stand up for herself, she has no voice. Stormy was her voice, even more so than the girl herself.”
Her daughter won’t have school transportation issues much longer.
Stormy Rich will graduate next week with a 3.67 GPA and has been awarded scholarships. She strives to continue to help others and plans to start nursing studies at Daytona State College.