FMS student makes bullying accusations

By Lucas Vance lvance@civitasmedia.com

February 22, 2014

WINNSBORO — A seventh grader at Fairfield Middle School told the Fairfield County School Board of Trustees during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting of being bullied at school with incidents including “being jumped on” in the bathroom by three boys, picked on and called names.

The boy told the trustees he has reported the incidents to his teachers and principal, but has not received any help. He claims a student punched him in the face while a teacher was in the classroom.

“I’m the student that can’t get help from my teachers,” he told the school board during Tuesday’s meeting.

The student’s mother backed her son’s accusations and expressed concern over his safety.

“I’ve talked to teachers and told them about not one occasion, but several occasions where my son has been jumped on,” his mother said. “I as a parent cannot go to work worrying about if my son is going to get jumped on or mistreated.”

She asked for a written statement from the school district explaining her son’s situation.

“My son gets up some mornings and cries because he doesn’t want to go to school,” she noted. “It is either because some child has harassed him or picked on him. What I’ve seen is that all the kids are not treated the same.”

Superintendent J.R. Green said he is concerned about the situation and is looking further into the claims.

The child is a part of the Bow Tie Club and Green sees him regularly, but noted he has not seen any indication of bullying.

Fairfield Middle School Principal Robin Hardy indicated she hasn’t spoken to the boy’s mother since October.

Hardy said the incident was isolated to one classroom incident, but has not been a continuous problem.

Green confirmed he recently received a phone call from the mother regarding a stolen cellphone, but while Green was obtaining some facts through questioning, he said she told him “never mind, I don’t want you to speak to administration.”

According to Green, he pursued the inquiry and told her that he was concerned about the situation, but she told him “no, no don’t worry about it.”

Green said he look into the situation the next day by speaking to the student.

“I need to have the facts before I address the situation,” Green noted. “If any student is being bullied or harassed, I’m going to make sure it is looked at myself.”

Green said he has yet to be informed of any offenders’ name regarding bullying in a bathroom after speaking to the accuser.

As part of the district’s ongoing efforts to maintain safe and effective learning environments for all students, their Safe Schools Tip Line (803-635-7195) provides students and parents with an anonymous way to report unsafe situations.

The tip line allows students and parents to report weapons, threats of violence, bullying, gang activity, harassment, suicide, drug involvement, and any and any activity that could potentially endanger students, staff, and property.

School Resource Officer Steve McDonald told The Herald Independent that his office is aware of the stolen phone in September, but has not received any reports of bullying or fighting.

“If we don’t receive a report, we can’t follow up and investigate,” he said. “We’ve put everything in place that we know of to handle these situations.”

McDonald said there is a zero tolerance policy for bullying in the school district and said if his office is notified of any bullying situations, there would be an investigation.