Scott City parents, students complain about bullying in schools

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Emotions boiled over as parents and students confronted the Scott City School Board about bullying during a meeting Wednesday night.

Three parents sparked a heated discussion about threats to and assaults on their children during school, at times making verbal exchanges with Superintendent Diann Bradshaw-Ulmer.

Two sophomores, Myriah Miller and Katessa Simmons, cried as they shared their struggles.

"I'm a straight-A student and in all honors classes," Myriah Miller said. "I don't deserve to come to school and be bullied."

"I'd rather drop out than come to school everyday and deal with this," Katessa Simmons said.

Myriah Miller's mother, Sonya Miller, said the situation began more than a year ago when Simmons was hit several times in the head in a school locker room. In November, her daughter's car was rear-ended after she was chased after school, she said.

She said the verbal threats have continued, but the most recent incident occurred Tuesday when a piece of Myriah's hair was cut off during math class.

Simmons and Myriah Miller said they have filed police reports to document the incidents.

Sonya Miller said she hired an attorney and will hold the school accountable for any physical assaults.

"You can only turn your back for so long," she said.

Other parents said the bullying problem extends beyond high school.

"My daughter's getting called a slut, a whore, a lesbian, a bisexual," said Michelle Callihan, the mother of a fifth-grader. She said her daughter, Jazmyne, has also been hit and tripped during school.

"I send my child here and pay my taxes for them to teach my child and protect my child," Callihan said.

When Bradshaw-Ulmer assured her the incidents were being looked into, Callihan cut her off.

"The way you're saying that is not nice to me," Callihan said.

Other parents later said they did not believe the administration would take serious action against the assaults.

Tina McCulley said her daughter, who is in the eighth grade, will attend Saxony Lutheran School next year.

"The teachers are aware of [the bullying], and the teachers are doing nothing," she said. "It's getting out of control."

Board members expressed concern about the incidents and said they would discuss the individual disciplinary issues in a closed session.

"This all comes as a surprise to me, but we are going to look into it," said board member Gary Miller. "There's a certain protocol that we have to follow."

Bradshaw-Ulmer said she does not believe there is a hostile school environment, but the board will take a serious look at the complaints.

Parents "want students to feel safe when they come here, as do the administrators," she said.

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