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TUSD Discipline Problems: Parents complain enough is enough

Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik supports parents
Posted at 1:00 AM, Nov 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-12 22:57:33-05
Principals, teachers, students and staff have been coming forward to KGUN9 for several months after the district moved to more lenient discipline practices.
 
These TUSD parents say the time has come to take a stand and they plan to deliver a powerful message to the school board next week.
 
Anti-bullying PSA: “Imagine a world where bullying isn't considered a normal part of childhood. A world where I'm not afraid to go to school.”
 
But that imagined world doesn't exist for three TUSD families -- who found themselves all alone -- navigating the destructive waters of bullying. Sue N’Goran says her 3rd-grade son “puts his head down. He stares at his feet. He knows he gets picked on. He's called names. And I cry for him. I try to be strong for him. But I cry for him.” 
 
Another parent, Christina Austin says, “A lot of people don't see it. But at home, you know, it's really different. He didn't go to school. He hates school now. He used to love it.”
 
Kristina Hansen says “And it's hard. Because you can't do anything.”
 
And these three mothers say they’ve tried desperately to get the district to do more to protect their children.
 
N'Goran says her 3rd-grade son has been tormented by bullies since the start of the school year. “Coming home with big bruises on his legs and arms. Being very sensitive. Wouldn't speak about it much. His teacher came to my vehicle and told me he was being bullied in class and they were aware of it and they were working on it.”
 
But the bullying didn't stop, she said. Her son ended up in the hospital with a concussion after being hit in the head at school. 
 
Anti-bullying PSA: “Speak out -- speak up.”
 
N'Goran spoke out -- she went up the chain of command and called the principal. “I left 6 messages in the course of 4 days, no return call. I finally went to the school to find out what is going on with my son. And she was unaware anything was going on.”
 
She called the district, but the bullying still continued.
 
Anti-bulling PSA: I shouldn't have to be afraid to get on the school bus.”
 
Christina Austin said, “My son is seven and he was bullied at the beginning of the school year on the school bus.  Another student came up, pushed him and then punched him in the mouth. Knocked his tooth out.”
 
Cavazos: “What is TUSD's response? 
Austin: I haven't got one. 
Cavazos: How long ago was that? 
Austin: August 30th.

Anti-bullying PSA: Bullying is not kids being kids. It's not a normal part of growing up.

“Brandee” is a high school sophomore. And for the first time in her life she felt scared to go to school.She says she became a target after reporting a sexting threat to a school administrator. “I went up to the office and then I came out and 9 and 10 girls sitting out there saying I was a snitch and they were going to jump me,” said the teen.

 

“She was sitting in class scared to death having a panic attack because there were nine students standing outside of her classroom door waiting to jump her. The substitute teacher did not do a thing to call anybody to come help. I had to call the office myself,” said her mother, Kristina Hansen. 

Despite in school suspension and mediation for one of the students, the threats continued. "Whoever was in there during mediation stepped out of the room leaving both girls in there by themselves and this girl was still threatening her i don't care what they do to me I'm still going to jump you," said Brandee's mother.
 
The school's solution? "To protect my daughter they were pulling her from class rather than dealing with the situation with the person who was bullying her," said Hansen.
 
A similar scenario for N'Goran's son. "After spitting on him kicking on him, the principal decided it was better for my son to be held out of games at recess instead of focusing on the bullies, they focus on my son," said N'Goran.
 
Similar situations, yet these three mothers didn't know each other until Sue N"Goran posted her son's latest bullying incident on a Facebook page "Tucson Angels." More posts from other parents followed now surpassing two dozen. 
 
"After I saw all these parents coming forward with similar situations and same kind of reactions from the district. I realized this is not my son's issue. It's a community issue where a lot of families are affected by how the district is responding to bullying issue and making it seem there isn't an issue going on," said N'Goran.
 
The Facebook posts caught the attention of Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik, who then contacted KGUN9. He believes bullying is a problem educators are duty-bound to address. He said, "And the community needs to deliver the message to the board -- to the administration -- that when we send our kids to your schools, they need to be safe. We need to trust they will be safe. If that's not the case, then you district, administration, board, need to deal with that."
 
And specifically these three mothers -- who plan to speak out at the next board meeting November 15th. "I feel like maybe people will be able to get together and really rally to stop this bullying and demand that the district does something. 00:20 >
 
Anti-Bullying PSA: Use of your voice. We have the power to stop bullying.
 
KGUN9 revealed through our investigations into the discipline crisis that the district has downplayed and under-reported incidents. The district has repeatedly told KGUN9 that they take discipline matters seriously. We reported just a few weeks ago, the district reversed course at the start of the school year and is now suspending more students for serious incidents like fighting and assaults.
 

The parents say they have yet to see those changes so they're looking to the school board and the community for support.

Click here to watch the full PSA