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  Wednesday April 23rd, 2014    

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Bullying and Winona Area Public Schools (10/27/2013)
From: Shannon Marg

I read with interest the article in Sunday’s (October 13, 2013) edition of the Winona Post — “Are your kids safe at school?” My expectation was that finally the administration would address the issue of bullying head-on. I was being too optimistic. Instead, the main issue was about a student bringing a gun to school, NOT about WHAT caused that student to bring the gun to school — BULLYING — Winona schools’ ‘dirty little secret’ that the administration refuses to address properly. How do I know? My son was the victim of bullying, which included two attacks on school property. Before my son told me he was being bullied, he tried to handle the situation on his own by going to teachers and the school administration. When he could no longer handle the constant bullying, had become irritable and withdrawn, and I found him in the closet of his bedroom crying; he told us what had happened. My husband and I confronted the school administration, only to walk away frustrated. As a result, and for our son’s mental and physical well-being, we moved him out of the Winona School District.

Before starting middle school, our son was a normal happy outgoing kid. Once in middle school his personality started changing, we watched him become more and more irritable and withdrawn. He wasn’t eating or sleeping, and when he did sleep he was restless. We tried talking to him, but he wasn’t willing to talk. We later found out he felt he should be able to handle the bullying and was embarrassed that he couldn’t. It took a second physical assault on him, at school, before he broke down and told us what was going on. Before the second assault he had reported the bullying to the supervisors on a number of occasions. The administration finally got involved after the second assault and AFTER my son’s friend reported it to them. The two students who, on two separate occasions, assaulted my son, were each  given ONE day of in-school suspension.

After the second assault, we had to approach the school’s administration, only to be met with animosity. It was suggested that perhaps our son was the problem. Our son, who had never had a discipline problem, and was a very good student, until middle school.

I know the student (and his parents) who brought the gun to school and he has been bullied since the fourth grade, and I sympathize with him and his parents. I am not condoning a student bringing a gun to school, but it goes to show how far a kid can be pushed to deal with bullying himself. I can only imagine the stress he has been under, for YEARS, after seeing what my son went through during just TWO years in middle school. And, based on my experience, I know the frustration his parents have asking for help. After my experience with the Winona school administration and bullying, it is the Winona school administration and teachers who should be called to task. They are not doing enough about bullying. Oh yes, they give bullying a lot of lip service, but there is NO action. If they are truly proactive about the bullying that is going on in the Winona schools there wouldn’t have been a meeting about a kid who brought a gun to school. Isn’t it time the school administrators get their heads out of the sand and DEALS with bullying? And, why are parents skirting around the issue or agreeing there is a problem but are afraid to come forward because they don’t want to “cause problems?” How many more students have to be pushed to the edge? And, how many more students will be pulled out of Winona schools and enrolled in other schools that aggressively enforce anti-bullying policies? It’s time parents, students, teachers, and administrators give this problem more than lip service. We need to work together to stop the bullying in the Winona schools. 

 

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