West York parent wants alleged bullying video released, board has concerns
Rhonda Lucky said she will not rest until the security tape of her 10-year-old son, Ted Grove, being bullied on a Trimmer Elementary School bus is made public.
West York school board members balked during the Tuesday, Feb. 12 board meeting at the demand. Lucky claims the tape showed her son did nothing wrong.
Board President Todd Gettys said the recording's release could put a bull's-eye on other students.
The district's solicitor Jeffrey Litts added that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a concern. The Easton Area School District dealt with similar concerns over releasing a bus video, as reported by Lehigh Valley Live.
The board on Tuesday approved adding a temporary elementary administrator to oversee discipline and is considering a social worker and K-12 safety and security coordinator next year.
Bullying issues: It was the first board meeting since Lucky and her attorney held a public meeting for parents at Leg Up Farmers Market on Jan. 28 to discuss bullying issues at the district.
Lucky said the district did not give her the opportunity to speak to the board about the bus incident — which the board refuted at its Tuesday meeting.
Gettys pulled up a Jan. 25 email and said he and board Vice President Jeanne Herman offered a meeting with Lucky and her husband only — but they did not follow up when Lucky said her attorney would be attending.
"Once the attorney becomes part of the equation, it rises to a different level," Herman said.
Ted Grove, 10, was out of his assigned seat and allegedly took a swing at another student before he was punched, said board member George Margetas, who has viewed the recording.
If that was the case, Lucky countered, "Why was my son not disciplined?"
She claimed her son was defending himself after he was slapped, and board member Suzanne Smith said everyone has an interpretation — the board's might be different. The recording's release, she contends, would vindicate her son.
Not reported? Many others have come forward to report similar problems with the district's response to bullying and failure to properly enforce its policies.
"There is an issue in this district — there's no doubt about it," said Donald Burdine, who also attended the parent meeting in January.
Only five reports of bullying districtwide were sent to the state Department of Education last year, Lucky said, which Burdine found odd because he'd reported his daughter being bullied two to three times.
Litts said it doesn't mean schools are not logging and reporting incidents internally, but since the legal definition for bullying comes from the state's Safe Schools Act, not all incidents may fulfill that criteria.
Herman says she would like to educate families, staff, leadership, the school board and the community on the definition of bullying — perhaps partnering with another local district to benefit the greater area.
She said consistency in application of discipline is something the district is working on, and Margetas added that, in Ted Grove's case, scheduling was working against them.
It was a half day before break, he said, and the bus driver told the principal three students were involved, but by the time the district figured out it was not them, students had gone for two weeks.
Moving forward: Burdine offered solutions for addressing bullying in the future, such as programs that bring together students who are different from each other.
Gettys agreed that he made good points and emphasized that fixing the problem is a process.
"We’re not going to change the culture overnight," he said, adding that every time there's an incident, there's two sides, and the district is responsible for about 3,000 students.