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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