Greenfield School District Fails to Address Bullying of Maple Grove Elementary Student

March 24, 2014

I am writing in hopes that local attention will call Maple Grove Elementary School teachers and staff, Greenfield School District administrators, the Greenfield Police Department, and the parents and adults of the Greenfield community to action.

My younger sister, age 9 and in 4th grade at Maple Grove Elementary School in Greenfield, has been harassed, bullied, and physically attacked by other students for months. She is teased, called names, and perhaps more concerning that the nasty words, one student pushes, punches, kicks, and/or threatens her on a nearly daily basis. My father and stepmother have contacted the teacher, the principal, the Greenfield School District Superintendent, and the Greenfield Police Department. The school teacher and administrators have told the aggressive students to “make better choices” and force the students “to apologize to each other.” My sister has been told to stay at the front of the line in order to avoid these students, and my father and stepmother have been encouraged to explore different schools. Ultimately, there have been zero consequences for these students harassing and bullying my sister.

Continued emails and communication to address the situation with the teacher, principal, and Superintendent to further address the situation have been ignored. As a result, my father and stepmother contacted Greenfield Police Department. The response: it is a school issue, and if it is so bad, the responsible thing is to move her to a different school. A child is being harassed, bullied, and physically assaulted, but it is not a law enforcement issue?

Arguably, a new school is an option, but it doesn’t make it the right choice. My sister has been a student at Maple Grove Elementary School since the beginning of her education, and when asked if she wants to move schools, she says, “No, it’s okay. I’m used to it.” A 9-year-old has become so used to her awful learning environment that she has become desensitized to what is happening. When you ask about her day at school, she uncomfortably shifts in her chair, clearly not wanting to talk about it. There are days she fakes sick just to get a break, and her grades are starting to suffer. This behavior is new, undoubtedly the result of her harassment and bullying.

But the solution to all this isn’t to move her to a different school. She shouldn’t have to move schools because the bullies’ behavior should be addressed and stopped. There should be consequences for their actions. When did schools start fostering hostile environments instead of safe learning environments? Why is it the responsibility of the victim’s family to make changes when in reality the bullies’ behavior should be addressed and corrected? By allowing this behavior in the schools, these adults (teachers, administrators, the Superintendent, and the police), send the message to the bullies that harassment and violence is okay and the message to my sister and other bullied students that violence and harassment is a part of life and you just need to learn how deal with it.

In recent years, bullying has been in the spotlight. StopBullying.gov is a Federal Government initiative under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There are many non-profit organizations such as PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center and The BULLY Project that attempt to raise awareness. Wisconsin even has anti-bullying laws in place. Bullying is not a new issue, and we are reminded on a fairly regular basis that bullying occurs, and we, as adults, have a responsibility to children to help, not only those being bullied, but also the bullies who will grow up and become members of our communities and society as well. Yet, the bullying of my sister continues. It is disgusting, disappointing, and concerning all at the same time.

My sister is 9 years old and in need of help, not only from her family, but also from those in the community who have the responsibility and duty to protect students in the learning environment and to help develop them into productive members of society. The same responsibility applies to helping these bullies learn that what they are doing is wrong and intolerable. The failure of Greenfield’s Maple Grove Elementary teacher and principal, the Greenfield School District Superintendent, and the Greenfield Police Department to help my family address the bullying and harassment that my sister endures on an almost daily basis is unacceptable.

Please contact the Greenfield School District and the Greenfield Police Department and tell them that their anti-bullying policies are inadequate and that all students should be able to learn in a safe environment.

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