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Mom wants change after bullying incident

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Huntington County Community School Corporation is reviewing its policies regarding self defense and bullying, after a mother said her son was sent to court for protecting himself from a bully.

Christina Hosler said she has spent the last three months talking to an attorney and working with the courts after her son was given two options following his three-day suspension from the school – either he pleads guilty to the charges and pays $50 to participate in Teen Court, a problem-solving court meant to defer charges, or he gets placed on probation.

“I recently withdrew one of my sons out of the school because I found out this year that if a child protects themselves from a bully, then they are actually committing a crime,” Hosler said during the public comment portion of the meeting. “I don’t know if you realize that all of the students that are in any kind of altercation in the school are all sent to probation.”

During the first week of school, the two students got into an argument which allegedly lead to the bully pushing her child in the doorway of a classroom, Hosler says. She said her son told the bully to leave him alone and proceeds to walk into the hallway before being pushed again. After going to his locker to diffuse the situation, Hosler said the bully followed him and pushed him to the ground as he was entering his locker combination.

Hosler said the teacher, resource officer or administration did not step in to resolve the situation or protect her child.

Hosler said her son attempted to “try to get this kid away from him,” which lead to his suspension, but it is unclear what exactly her son did to get the bully away from him.

After talking with a probation officer, Hosler said the worker told her everyone gets sent to probation now and that the suspected bully is in trouble all of the time and on probation currently, reportedly telling Hosler she doesn’t have to worry.

They were told the only alternative to probation is to enroll in Teen Court, so Hosler said she was interested in the program until she saw that her son would have to plead guilty to wrongdoing.

“My child is not pleading guilty to sticking up for himself,” she said.

So she did not enroll him, which lead to her getting a text recently saying she needed to appear in court, since the Youth Services Bureau, which runs the program, has to tell probation about any defendants who don’t finish the program at the end of the year.

She said she wanted to bring the ordeal to the board’s attention since she feels its a policy issue. She cited statistics from the U.S. Secret Service that say two-thirds of the 37 school shootings studied showed that bullying was a motive

“I feel like this is a very serious issue, and I feel like if the kids can’t stand up for themselves, what are they supposed to do?”

No one answered her questions, but board president Matthew Roth said the board cannot respond to questions made during the public comment section of the meeting. Roth encouraged her to speak with the board or administrators after the meeting.

Board member Kevin Yarger asked the administration to look into the policy and see what the procedures would be in the situation brought to the board’s attention, and HCCSC superintendent Randy Harris said he would talk to HNHS Principal Russ Degitz and update the board.

In other news, the board:

n Approved changes to the classified employee handbook.

n Approved technology policies on first reading

n Approved an update to a new agreement with administrators.

n Heard an update on Roanoke Elementary School, which is slightly behind schedule due to inclement weather over the winter but is picking up steam now that weather is favorable.