Some angry parents packed a school board meeting in the western Iowa town of Atlantic last night. They’re upset with the way school administrators have dealt with a 14-year-old boy accused of bullying classmates. The 7th grader was handed an in-school, two-day suspension in January for stabbing other students with pencils. Tracey Helvie said her son was one of the victims.
“I’m really upset because this happened to my son at 10 o’clock in the morning and I was notified at 1:46 that afternoon,” Helvie told Atlantic School Board members. “That’s a long time to wait to get a phone call.” Police initially accused the student of sexual assault because of where he was stabbing students with the pencil, but no charges were filed. Instead, he received the two-day, in-school suspension and was charged with four counts of simple assault.
Randall Witt, whose son was also attacked, said he talked to the police officer who responded to the school. “He told me that he read this kid the riot act. He said he chewed his…I can’t say the word – up and down. (The officer) said the kid laughed in his face…and it went in one ear and out the other. The following day, my kid is at the YMCA being threatened,” Witt said.
The Atlantic School Board did not take any action at last night’s meeting. Superintendent Michael Amstein called the punishment “appropriate to the incident” and said steps will be taken to make sure students are not at risk of further bullying. A teacher at the meeting said the student accused in the pencil stabbings is very “remorseful” and realizes what he did was a “stupid mistake.”
Several parents said if the student continues to bully their kids, they will pull their children out of the school.
By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic