Michael Shriver said he knew there were problems at Robinson Elementary School when his 6-year-old daughter came home with scratches and welts on her arms.
“My wife questioned (our daughter) and she said this little girl was hitting her with a stick on the playground. When she told the teacher, the teacher told her to go play,” Shriver said.
The Shrivers are one of multiple families in the Robinson Independent School District unsatisfied with the administration’s response to physical and verbal altercations among students.
The Shrivers transferred their daughter to a new school district during the recent semester break.
Robinson parents came to the board of trustees meeting Monday to demand a better response from the administration.
Scott Butler, a Robinson parent of a seventh-grade boy, said the teachers and administrators need to be more aware of what’s occurring between students. Butler said his son would never tell an adult if he was being bullied due to peer pressure, and it’s the teachers’ job to be aware if it’s occurring.
Butler also said the administration needs to change the consequences for bullying. Butler’s son was punched in the mouth a few weeks ago, but the aggressive student received the same punishment that students receive for forgetting homework: in-school suspension and lunch detention.
“The consequences have to represent the crime,” Butler said.
In an interview before the meeting, Sara Laughlin, Robinson Intermediate School principal, said the district identifies bullying as a persistent behavior from one student that is harmful to another student. The motive of the aggressive student can play a factor, but it doesn’t always, according to Laughlin. When there is a complaint about bullying, administrators and counselors meet with the students to investigate the complaints.
The district’s student code of conduct prohibits bullying, and students can receive a range of disciplinary action, including being removed from class by a teacher to out-of-school suspension.
But, Laughlin said, few legitimate bullying complaints surface during the year.
The Tribune-Herald was unable to contact the elementary school principal.
Shriver said the reason why more bullying incidents aren’t logged is because the administration doesn’t take them seriously.
“They kept saying it was accidents or that it was a misunderstanding,” Shriver said.
Shriver’s daughter began experiencing unwanted attention from another student at the beginning of October. On the playground during recess, along with hitting Shriver’s daughter with a stick, the girl hit her with a shoe and told the other students not to play with her, Shriver said.
In a letter responding to Shriver’s concerns, a campus administrator explained how school officials met with both students together and then separately to address the problem.
“After listening to both girls, we concluded that the other student is experiencing some jealousy when (your daughter) would play with other girls in the class. We spoke with the other student and talked about appropriate play and how to best be a good friend,” the letter states.
But, Shriver said, the abuse didn’t stop. The child continued to hit and punch at his daughter with little intervention from the school.
“My daughter loves school, and she got to the point where she would cry because she had to go to school,” Shriver said.
Robinson Superintendent Michael Hope responded to the comments during the meeting, saying he and his principals take bullying accusations seriously and urged parents to be sure to report any problems to the campus or the bus drivers.
“If there’s any type of allegation, it will be investigated,” he said. “We want to make sure that all of our kids are safe.”