Kristi's Kids

Feb 12, 2014 12:45 AM by Kristi Tedesco

Kristi's Kids Investigation: Bullying allegations at Secrist Middle School

TUCSON - At Secrist Middle School, on the far east side of Tucson, there's a growing concern over bullying.

Kids are getting a "core" education at Secrist of reading, writing and arithmetic; but Kristi's kids has learned, the unwelcome subject of bullying has come up too. Time and time again, complaints of bullying, from parents, students and teachers.

A 14-year-old 8th grader, we'll call "Juan", says Secrist Middle School went from bad to worse in the first semester of this school year.

Last November, just before lunch, "Juan" thought a classmate needed help. He says, the kid "...was hanging off a door, (so) I decided to help him down. He took it the wrong way and just started going on me."

"Juan" was injured but refused medical attention, even though a school nurse recommended he go home.

"Juan's" father, Ramon Israel Chavez, tells Kristi's Kids, "instead of having the principal call me saying 'hey this is what happened,' a teacher had to call me to let me know...." Ramon says, the teacher called at 5:30 pm, about six hours after the fight. And, he says, the Principal refused to speak to him.

When "Juan" started getting headaches, his father took him to the hospital. According to the hospital document, "Juan" had "a facial contusion, a "bruise with swelling and sometimes bleeding under the skin." Also, the examiner noted, "although there is no sign of serious injury at this time, symptoms may appear later which could be a sign of a more serious problem".

Juan stayed home the rest of the week. Then, the following Monday, his dad took a letter of complaint to the school. He says, he got no response. Ramon called police, and the other boy was arrested.

Kristi's Kids asked TUSD for all internal communications regarding bullying in the first semester at Secrist. We got back a stack of emails, which included reports of "intimidating a boy in the locker room" and "hitting that boy during PE," "continual bullying from a number of students" and even rock throwing.

A teacher wrote, on December 2nd, that she "was hit in the shoulder with a rock". There was even an email, from a teacher, saying "do you have any DVD's on bullying?? Desperate." And one parent (not Ramon) wrote that bullying "incidents have been swept under the rug."

TUSD spokesperson, Cara Rene responded, saying "TUSD leadership has reviewed the parental concerns expressed to KVOA in regards to student interactions at Secrist Middle School. The district takes allegations of bullying very seriously and has protocols and numerous programs in place to address such concerns to protect our students. Student safety and wellbeing is a priority for district staff and bullying of any kind is unacceptable in our schools. The review of the specific instances at Secrist indicated that they were primarily issues of conflict between students rather than students being singled out and targeted by others, as is the case in bullying. Principals and other administrators manage student conflicts through myriad means, including using restorative practices to correct behavior and disciplinary action when appropriate. TUSD is committed to providing safe learning environments for our students and staff and quickly addresses any activity that may threaten that expectation on our school campuses."

Ramon tells Kristi's Kids, "I think a lot of parents out there need to start stepping up in the plate, need to start taking more action with their kids, what's going on in school."

Since "Juan's" incident at Secrist, there has been a change in principal at the school, but TUSD tells Kristi's kids that the change had nothing to do with the issue of bullying.

According to the TUSD "Guidelines for Student Rights and Responsibilities" handbook, bullying is a level-3 offense in the district. Kids can get in-school suspension and, according to our documents, at least one student did.

To get a look at the handbook, click here.

If you have a story you'd like us to look into, email KristisKids@kvoa.com

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