Student’s suicide and allegations of bullying roil Paso Robles school district

February 29, 2016


One child is dead and another has been pulled from a Paso Robles middle school amid allegations of bullying, harassment and physical assaults by students. Parents have taken to Facebook to discuss what some call a culture of bullying.

“Lewis Middle School really needs to address their issues on bullying…and maybe think about the victims instead of the bullies and their confidentiality,” Ann Barton posted on Facebook. “I have personally dealt with that garbage and I know another mother who got a restraining order against a student that was bullying and what did the district do? Send the bully to Flamson!”

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District officials responded Thursday by addressing parents at Daniel E. Lewis Middle School. Next week, district officials will speak with concerned parents at George H. Flamson Middle School to discuss programs already in place to address campus bullying.

Nevertheless, some parents claim district staff has failed to properly respond to allegations of bullying.

Until last month, Monica Gusimat’s 11-year-old daughter attended George H. Flamson Middle School. However, after months of cyber bullying and a physical assault, Gusimat took her child out of public school and began homeschooling her, Gusimat said.

Back in September, Gusimat first informed school staff that one student had punched her child in the head and several students were harassing her. The head of student security services, Henry Jenkins, thought her daughter was overreacting, Guzimat said.

“First, he said she was exaggerating and then he told me the other kid had not hit my daughter that hard,” Guzimat said. “My daughter would walk down the hall and kids would say here comes the fat girl run. Teachers would see it and not say anything.”

Other students would tell Guzimat’s daughter she was stupid, no one liked her and she should just kill herself, Guzimat said.

After the 11-year-old left the school in the middle of February, one sixth grade student continued to send her text messages asking her to commit suicide.

“Okay bitch, go kill yourself and leave other people alone,” the student wrote. “ Whatever bitch I’m just saying, I will be the happiest girl ever if you killed yourself.”

Since then, Jenkins is on a leave of absence and one student was suspended for several days, Guzimat said. School officials confirmed Jenkins was on leave, but were unsure if he would be returning to the district.

On Feb. 3, a 12-year-old student of Lewis Middle School took her own life. Shortly afterwards, her mother posted allegations of bullying on Facebook.

“My daughter was bullied to death,” the mother wrote on Facebook. “I am in grief, not just for me but for her as well. She carried this all on her own ,telling two friends only, but never disclosing the name of who was bullying her. My little girl was so brave and courageous, but I think she was too afraid to share the name of who it was.”

Both the district and the Paso Robles Police Department opened investigations into the allegations that  the child was bullied before her death.

The district investigation determined the allegations of bullying were rumors, said Martha Clayton, the district’s pubic relations officer. “The police are still investigating.”

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I was bullied as a child. For my hair, my teeth, you name it. One boy made up a song about me when I was 11 about how I needed a bra. Back then, the teachers did nothing. One day I had enough. This girl was calling me Medusa. I was trying so hard not to cry. She saw it. As I tried to walk away, she stuck gum in my hair. I lost my shit. Think Ralphie from Christmas Story. I knocked out a tooth of her’s for sure and may have broken her nose. She had fists full of my hair and was yanking as hard as she could, but I didn’t feel it. I just hit her and hit her until teachers pulled me off her.

I know the school at that time had to have known and seen. It was the philosophy of the day that kids just need to work that stuff out. The problem is that you can only push a person so far before things get out of control. Adults aren’t even expected to handle situations indefinitely. We have police, attorneys, code enforcement, etc depending on our “issue”. Kids just don’t know where to turn or what to do.

What I DO know is my mother told me years later when I asked her to tell me the incident from her end was that she got a call that apparently a girl had called me names and put gum in my hair. The school knew she was a “problem”, but no one intervened until I injured her because I had never been violent– ever. They were quite frankly shocked that I didn’t do what I had always done, which was walk away and take it. My mother told them they ought to be ashamed of themselves and that girl had it coming; if anyone had another opinion about it, that she and my dad would make sure they understood.

What *I* remember about that incident is my mom taking me home and trying to unstick the gum out of my hair with mayo (I think she just wanted me to sit still while she talked to me) She told me that she knew I was always a reasonable kid, and that something must have been REALLY wrong for me to do what I did that day, and she was proud of me for sticking up for myself. She told me not be scared, because I “knocked the shit” out of the other kid and no one would be bothering me anymore.

I do not remember having another problem with another girl. That girl avoided me for the most part, and when I saw her, I just looked at her with indifference. I think I made my point the first time.

I only tell that story because I think there are too many people out there that were bullied when they should not have been at school. School should be a place of comfort, safety, and acceptance. Sometimes the school setting is the ONLY place these young darlings will have the opportunity to learn structure, rules, norms. Isn’t that the ENTIRE purpose of school??? Education is not just history and math; education is about learning how to function in society. Being a bully/punk to the wrong person can get you killed out in the real world. It sure isn’t going to get you that job you want. Sadly, some parents just don’t have enough emotional fortitude to parent their children. So, for the time a kid is at school, the adhere to school rules.

School needs to be a safe place for kids to explore and be who they are. So yes, that IS a burden our educational system must help shoulder.


I am surprised that you’ve shown us your violent modus operandi as a child, and hopefully as an adult, you’ve left these embarrassing “get even” acts behind.

You were obviously not a Christian when you enacted this beating upon another, therefore, Jesus in heaven was probably not smiling as He looked down upon you pummeling your adversary and not following His direct edicts relative to violence.

A true Christian girl in the same situation would have turned the other check and let this bully put gum on the other side of their hair and have taken further verbal abuse, then, walked away.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

“The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.” (Psalm 11:5)

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways,” (Proverbs 3:31)

Oh Ted Slanders, I can always count on you!

No my dear, my parents were the old school “spare the rod, spoil the child” kind. The rod kept me on the path brother. If more Americans believed in Sheparding their kids with rules and structure(not necessarily beatings), perhaps we would be in a better place. People shouldn’t be told how to act right. But isn’t it ironic how even our politicians cry ignorance?


If your parents followed Jesus’ word by not sparing the rod, then you were following Christian principles. Therefore, I find it interesting that you don’t accept the term beatings when the bible points this out as option to follow when a child does not follow their parents rules.

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou neatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs.23:13-14)

You disagreeing with the Hebrew Christian god’s word in this respect is duly noted.

@AHEPaso just curious, are you speaking as a representative of Paso Robles School District?

No. I was an administrator in PRJUSD for one year several years ago. I am not employed by the district nor do I currently have any students in the district. The opinions I express are solely my own as a private citizen with a background as a teacher and now an administrator. Sorry, I should have stated that directly in my original post!

This bullying problem arises from the fact that we don’t have the Bronze Age religion of Christianity, prayer, the Ten Commandments, and bible reading within our socialist public school systems.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

As shown, our Christian Hebrew Yahweh God is instructing His people on how to live as they prepare to go into the Promised Land, or Hell if they don’t follow Him. Critical to the life and health of Yahweh’s creation are school children‘s malleable minds where the teachings of Yahweh by parents and teachers is to be done on a daily basis.

As any true Christian knows, if your child becomes unruly and doesn’t follow godly edicts in school or at home, then we have biblical backup to take action upon their person by following this simple biblical axiom which is far worse than any bullying problem.

“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Proverbs.23:13-14)

Its time we start acting like a Christian Nation.


To blame schools for bullying is not only shortsighted, it adds to the problem. Let’s do a little math. Say a child is in 3rd grade – he or she is typically about 8 years old. At that point in the child’s life, he or she has been in school for only about 7% of their time on earth (and that is if they attended a full-day kindergarten class). In just a given year, a student who attends school 180 days a year for seven hours a day, spends about 14% of their time that year in school. That puts parents in charge of the other 86% of the time. Yet, schools are the entity entirely responsible for teaching kindness, empathy, the ability to speak up and stand up, perseverance, the navigation of tough social situations, and all other life skills?

Bullying (and as a school administrator, I HATE that word for the constant misuse and overuse of it), is a societal problem – NOT simply a school problem. True bullying, the type you see in movies with a clear unbalance of power, is much rarer than people realize. Having been in education for over twenty years, I have worked with students and parents on situations labeled as bullying hundreds of times. But much more often than not, there are two sides (and sometimes more) to each situation. Just as there are identifiers of children more likely to bully (issues at home, uninvolved parents, etc.), there are risk factors identified for students more likely to be targets such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem (for more information, see If we spend our time pointing the finger at schools for being solely responsible for bullying, we aren’t addressing the larger issues of what put the students in the roles of aggressor and target in the first place.

Before you state that “nothing is being done about this” with regards to bullying in schools, consider the limitations and liability issues schools face due to the current laws and litigious society we live in. Consider the lack of parent support many administrators face. School personnel are limited by law how much can be shared with the target student and his or her family. They can’t discuss the aggressor’s discipline or consequences. They can’t share the risk factors that were in place contributing to the student’s bullying or being the target. They can’t even share what support will be put in place to hopefully reduce the risk of that aggressive behavior continuing and give skills to the target student. It appears as though “nothing is done” despite multi-layer efforts, several hours, and education funding being directed toward addressing the problem. Research shows that suspension does not work to improve behavior. Besides, more time in a home environment that more than likely contributed to the bully disposition is not a solid plan for fixing the problem. Providing counseling, connecting students and families to resources, and improving the current mental health crisis is where focus should be.

Schools now do so much more than teach the basic subjects. They connect students to medical, dental, and counseling services, feed them multiple meals, clothe them, provide before and after school care, etc. Don’t get me wrong, it is critical for our society to take care of the WHOLE child – it is a moral imperative. However, it would be great if schools could do it in a partnership with the parent, not INSTEAD of the parent. I echo the call from a previous post and compel parents to do their part in their 86% of the child’s time. I also invite people who simply want to put all the blame on schools to instead educate themselves as to the statistics, research, and laws and then contribute to the solution rather than simply complain.

” Research shows that suspension does not work to improve behavior.”

What research? In the old days, rotten kids were expelled, taken from their parents, and sent to work camps and reform schools.

“Schools now do so much more than teach the basic subjects. They connect students to medical, dental, and counseling services, feed them multiple meals, clothe them, provide before and after school care, etc.”

This is the crux of the problem. The function of the school is to educate, not provide food, clothes, housing. Screw Social Justice.

If a child can’t behave in school by a certain age (late middle school/early high school), he needs to be expelled and sent off to a military environment where social norms, proper behavior, and vocational skills will be in instilled him. Sorry, if the school and the parents fail in their job to educate, they lose the taxpayer subsidy for that child and it is transferred to a much more rigorous institution that will not tolerate anti-social behavior.

Funny thing is that I actually suspended and eventually expelled my own foster son (who attended the school where I was an administrator at the time) several years ago. He ended up being sent to a much more rigorous institution and then reunified with his biological father after his father was released from incarceration. Sadly, my former foster son is now an unemployed high school drop out. I only had a few months with him before he was expelled and sent to a “reform” institution, but I feel that I could have made a difference if only I could have convinced him to control himself and his defiance in school.

If you want research, you can do an internet search for peer reviewed scholarly articles on suspension. You will find HUNDREDS of research studies to choose from. Of course, research is simply that. Not a guarantee of truth. (I tend to be skeptical myself of research and tend to line my beliefs up with what I have seen or experienced instead).

B.S. and excuse making is what I read in your defense. Why even bring up the ‘targets’ depression? What that really says is the bully is they are cowards who have to attack the weak. Is that the situations you regard as having two-sides. It’s not the school’s fault for creating the bully, but it is the school’s fault for blabbing the type of excuses you just did.

Kid is a bully, get rid of them. Expulsion. wah wah wah…. the government won’t let me. Well then take a freaking stand dude.

“Kid is a bully, get rid of them. Expulsion.”

The schools won’t expel kids because they lose money when the kid is removed to another school system (Community School, private schools).

The post above is classic bureaucratic double speak. It would fit well in the Soviet Union, where apparatchiks did mental gymnastics to justify a failed system.

Face it. Half or more of society is all effed up. Schools have to spend the majority of their money and attention on the children of those. They have to. The average child gets next to nothing in attention or concern. If your child is a ‘victim’, then you have to sacrifice and remove them from public education. All the publicity and public support does nothing for your child when they have to return to year after year to the child prison aka public school.

Such doom and gloom (although I agree with major parts of your post!). I tend to be hopeful, though, and would hate to live in a community where we just gave up. I can assure you that in schools in SLO County and all over the state, there are dedicated teachers and staff who work exceptionally hard, day after day, to make a positive difference for our kids.

Yes, there are dedicated teachers. If the Federal and State government and administrators would let them do their job, they would not only improve teaching, but also stop the bullying.

Doom and gloom? Depends on your perspective. If you are a decent and moral parent who is raising a great kid, who has to send your kid to school to be sexualized and brainwashed and bullied, then you’d understand. If you’re one of those in charge of transforming culture to the new anarchy, then yeah, you like what’s happening.

I certainly strive to be a decent and moral parent! I currently have two kids I consider great (and their teachers echo that assessment) who are still in public school (and two older ones who already graduated from public school), so I think I have a pretty good understanding of our education system from a parent perspective too. I don’t feel that my children are (or have been) sexualized (that one is scary!) or brainwashed. Again, remember the percentage of time kids are in school versus the time they are in the care of their parents. It would be hard to say that schools have more ability to influence our children than families do.

Sorry to have upset you. Truly. I wasn’t trying to write a defense, but rather offer a perspective with a way to focus on solutions rather than finger pointing. The reason for bringing up the risk identifiers (the “two sides” you are questioning) of both the aggressor and the target is to address the critical need for more mental health help in schools (and communities, for that matter). .

I never said or indicated that the government wouldn’t let me expel a student. There are certainly the means to do so in our Ed Code. But, as far as expulsion for a solution to bullying, I have to wonder what the expectation would be for the student being expelled. Will he or she just disappear? Will they be guaranteed to stop being a bully? If they are incarcerated, who pays for this? Are they “fixed” once they are expelled?

Now, I have to wonder as you seem to be so passionate and opinionated about this subject . . . Do you not see an aggressive and unkind tone in your response? You also assume I’m a “dude,” but I am a female. Again, I am sorry to have stirred up obviously angry thoughts in you – this is exactly what we should be trying to avoid.

Yes, isn’t it nice to have an aggressive and unkind tone if I want. Your words, “offer a perspective” are so meaningless. Of course you have the right to expel. But you and I know that the system doesn’t want that and school and administrators like you are trying to make themselves look good by playing the game. “OH look at me, my suspensions have gone down, I am doing something unique and worthy. Recognize me. Say that I am a special administrator.Maybe a book will be written about my great leadership. ” thinks the common administrator. Reality is that you have set up a school system of illusion.

You are part of the problem because you continue to justify a failed system….and what is worse, is that you do not seem to even know.

So figure it out, and then TAKE A STAND DUDETTE.

Thanks for fixing the “dude” part! :)

Truly, I am glad you share your perspective and opinions. It may be hard to hear how you are perceiving me just by my posts, but it is valuable to consider others’ thoughts.

i have to admit that I had to laugh at the “Look at me, my suspension are down!” because even I have a cynical opinion of that. I do hear it across the state, but often wonder, “Are the issues down too? Is school climate improving?”

Anyway, even if we don’t agree, and your message comes across to me as unkind and aggressive, I do appreciate you taking the time to share it.

You are a bully for calling me unkind and aggressive. Defend the points, don’t name call.

Principles over Personality.

At some point is there a responsibility to keep your other students safe from a bully? It seems like the solution is backwards to me. Rather than the bullied child being pulled from school (for their own safety) and the bully left in school to carry on, why isn’t it the other way around? I suspect that if the parents of the bully had to come face to face with “what are we going to do with little mary all day while we are at work” the behavior might change.

You all need to start having weekly assemblies discussing the merits of kind behavior and hand out awards to kind students. Let the other students nominate them and give examples as to why they are kind. I recently saw this in action at a local middle school (not in Paso Robles obviously). The entire student body was involved in the nominations – it was quite an event. It’s a great way to celebrate good behavior and get the message across that bullies aren’t cool. I think you have to try.

From all of my interactions with school staff while trying to get this sorted out, transfer was the “easiest” option. We refused to do so, since he has been at the campus since Kinder, and with autism having a new school and all new people would create problems of a completely different variety for him.

My nephew who was repeatedly told at school, and reported it to staff at school that he should go kill himself, ended up having to transfer schools. Best part is since he’s in 5th grade, next year he’ll probably be right back with the “wonderful” children that forced him to move to a new school.

There is little that will be done for the victims in these situations. That you will ever know about. Unless you as a parent go in, and put pressure on the school and know your rights, and the laws regarding these things, there isn’t much they will do, and they generally won’t volunteer information. Since a lot of the remedies cost them more money.

NxpND- I was just wondering about the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Sect 504 about kids with special needs. stomp out bullying dot org is a pretty good online resource and outlines all the things one can do, including taking the issue higher. Schools are obligated by laws to address bullying types of conduct or civil rights are violated.

Maybe it’s time for a media blitz on the subject.

I am sorry your son has had to endure the bullies and feel the schools should be stepping up, offering apologies, and dealing with the situation.

The staff got it taken care of, which is why I have stated I really like the current staff at my son’s school. But I know personally how hard it can be to get things taken care of, from dealing with less helpful people that were employed at the school when this started. I doesn’t help that the Principal has changed several times through this entire mess though.

Love that idea of a way to focus on kind behavior! This creates a culture of kindness and to celebrate good behavior.

This is what I got from the schools when my son was assaulted again this year. He has autism, the two children in his SDC class that assault him had a history of assaulting him for several years. I was told by a “Guidance Counselor”, that there was inadequate supervision on the playground at recess and lunch breaks to ensure children’s safety. I called my wife, who is a special education teacher outside of SLO County to tell her what I was told by this person. She then called the school and set up an emergency meeting to see what could be done.

Spent nearly an hour at the school listening to people in CYA mode explain that this person misspoke on the phone with me. Nobody could explain to me why one of the parent’s for the other children that was assaulting my son was allowed to sit in on a meeting with MY son who had been repeatedly assaulted by their child. That same morning before the meeting, we had a chance to talk with his first grade teacher, the teacher that taught his 2-3 combo class and his current teacher. His two previous teachers who had managed to get things under control were amazed it had started up again. So this was something that was thoroughly documented.

My child has autism, and mild learning disabilities, he is the least violent child I have ever been around. If crying when somebody walks up behind you, punches you and laughs at you when you cry, is “inviting” that behavior, and makes it so a child will target you, and blaming the child that cries after being punched, then the system is in desperate need of a more serious fix. It was so bad I told my son to punch the other child in the face as hard as he could next time, to hopefully make the other kid stop. You know what my son looked at me and said? “I can’t do that, that’s not nice”. So tell me, doesn’t my son deserve a hell of a lot more protection and care than the children who have a long history of assaulting him and other children in their same SDC class?

The bureaucracy and double speak needs to stop. The way things are handled needs to change. Maybe it’s time to start sending the violent children to the county program here in town. When kids have a history of being bullies, maybe the need to be removed and have an alternative school set up to keep other children same from them. I’m not blaming the schools, I’m mostly blaming people for not teaching their children basic things like right and wrong. I’m blaming parents that feel this stupid need to be “best friends” with their child. That’s not the job of a parent. A parent’s job is to raise a child to be a decent human being, and realize that if there is something wrong with the child, to get them help and do what they can to keep other kids safe. It is not the job of the school to do more much more than educate our children, and keep them safe when they are in your care. I’m not asking you to do medical checks on my child, that is my job as a parent. I’m not asking you to teach them basic principles of how to behave, that’s my job as a parent, and if they can’t comprehend proper behavior by the time they are school age, then I’m failing as a parent and maybe somebody needs to step in and do something about it.

Wrong, dude.

“Counseling”/ mental health is just a bandaid. Laughable because ineffective when a mind is not receptive. Surely you know that.

a. Consequences should also be for the parents, e.g. fines, community service, removal of welfare, deportation of Illegals and their tax-sucking Anchor babies.

b. Citizens must get their asses out there and change the corrupted laws that make the situation uncontrollable.

No more democrat-socialist RINO “policies” based on snowflake feelings and fantasies.

It’s because of them, as being taught from the top down in universities, that we have allowed our culture to be ruined.

Old Ned I was responding to anonymous key board bullies like yourself who will never identify themselves but just hide behind their keyboard as they take shots at me. My point is if your kid is not taught to deal with this stuff by the parents early on they will become self avowed victims like “old Ned” here. There is no magic wand on this stuff but with bullies it’s all about power and if you teach your child not to relinquish their power to a bully they will be just fine.

Dear Mr. Tatro,

I know the family of the child that committed suicide. Your insensitivity in using this forum to self congratulate yourself in raising kids to be powerful and not victims is disgusting.

I feel confident that I’m neither a bully nor a victim. However, you may want to look up the definition of cognitive dissonance before posting again.

New to the forum, my name is John Mr. Tatro, and because a you were able to teach your kids to “deal” with bullies does not make the parents of the children that committed suicide any “mentally weaker” than you or the children any less as they are now dead. Not sure how this forum got side tracked on your lawsuit with the city when this was a bulling case about children. You must be proud that your children were able to “deal” with the bullies and you chose this forum to point it out. Congatulations on your success at parenting.

Officer Baseball loves to talk about himself rather than important issues. Even if Tatro has such a good handle on things that he knows his kids effectively dealt with bullying, he fails to realize that not all kids are the same and don’t respond the same way to cruelty. So ignore it or “punch them in the nose” may work for some but doesn’t work for the majority of kids, most of whom are bullied in the first place because “they don’t fit in.” They frequently enter middle school feeling alienated and isolated and that gets worse if they’re bullied. Just ignore it or punch the bully doesn’t work so well if you’re a timid and physically weak kid who is taunted on a daily basis.