Last Updated on March 19, 2021 by Michelle Ball
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
The “New York Times” previously reported on an attack of a Philadelphia boy on the way home from school by 7 youths. The boy was beaten by a group and then left hanging from a high fence. Prior to that the student had been kicked, dragged, punched, and placed upside down in a tree according to the author of the article, John Hurdle. Don’t let this happen to your child.
What Was Probably Going On Prior To The Student Hanging From The Fence
I would suspect this was not the first situation involving these boys. For example, I bet:
1) There was a history of targeting the victim prior to this incident at school.
2) The school knew about the targeting and/or they knew about other incidents involving the attackers.
3) The school did nothing and/or did not do enough.
4) The parents did not ask the right questions of their son about what was going on at school, and/or they did not jump all over the situation to get the school to act.
Never ever presume the schools ARE doing their jobs adequately. Parents must stay involved. Parents ALWAYS need to know what is going on to ensure the schools are doing what they are supposed to do. Kids usually will not report issues to school staff on their own and feel they have no power. If school officials don’t notice something is going on with a student and take action, parents must step in. I have heard too many horror stories to believe otherwise.
Schools are under an obligation to take action when they know bullying or targeting is occurring. They can punish the students involved (see California Education Code sections 48900(r) and 48900.4) and ensure the bullying is ended by informing staff to watch and step in to prevent victimization of a student. Sadly, it is not infrequent for students to be targeted while the school ignores a known situation. Often the parents have verbally told the school, but the school has done nothing.
Here Is What To Do To Get The School To Take Action To Stop Bullying
1) Talk to your kids every single day about what is going on at school. Really get into problems they are having and who the problems are with.
2) Go observe your children at school. Get advanced permission from the school. Then, sit and watch what is going on with your child from a distance.
3) If anything comes up in your discussions and/or observation involving repetitive taunting, pushing, etc. note this down. Keep a daily journal of what is going, where it happens, and who is involved.
4) If things are bad, and/or physical at all, send a formal letter to the school regarding what is going on. Ask for a meeting and action by the school. Repeat as needed.
5) Meet with the school administration and develop a plan to stop the bullying. Bring a list of items you WANT put in place such as a shadow to follow your child, a meeting with the other kids’ parents, daily email on what is going on, etc. This list will be unique to each student, depending on the situation.
6) If they ignore you, send your letter to the Superintendent.
7) If things continue to occur, send polite DAILY LETTERS outlining what is occurring at school. Paper trails are great for making people act or proving they didn’t.
8) You can also file a complaint in writing with the District, or could even go to your local grand jury to file a complaint if you are getting nowhere.
10) Pick up your child or walk them to/from school if possible.
11) Protect your kids. If the school and district are non-responsive, you must still protect your child as a first action while resolving the problems. This may mean your supervision at school as needed, independent study, or even transfer to another school, etc. The most important thing, regardless of the school, is preventing the student from being beaten or killed. You do not want to have your child to end up beaten and hanging from a fence.
12) Learn learn learn about bullying, the laws surrounding it, and parental rights. For example, check out websites like stopbullying.gov
The school has the power to address the bullying as it sees fit, BUT parents can influence what they do by providing a list of what the parent thinks will solve the problems.
Don’t neglect this. Parents must take control to the degree they can, or their child may be left hanging beaten from a fence or worse.
[originally published on 2/2/11, updated 3/19/21]
Education Attorney for Students
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Please see my disclaimer. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting. This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship. This blog may not reflect the current state of the law.