West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) The mother of an Airport High School student is angry at what she believes was inadequate punishment after her son was brutally beaten by a bully at Airport High School. She found a video of her son, just 14 years-old, who has autism, being pummeled by a bully at the school on social media.
Jessica McCormick’s son, the autistic child, and the bully both were suspended from school after the fight. McCormick says that her son was bullied non-stop for weeks. She said the boy called her son all types of offensive names and constantly picked on her son before the violent episode erupted. She said that the bullying started again as soon as both students returned from their suspension.
The video, posted on social media, was shot by a student during the fight that gave McCormick’s son a concussion. The video shows the bully continuing to punch McCormick’s son even after he had fallen to the ground. The blows were aimed at and landed on the autistic child’s head. It is unlawful to say whether the aggressor faces any criminal charges as a result of the incident because he is a juvenile. Airport High School does have a full-time school SRO on staff.
McCormick just doesn’t believe that Lexington School District Two has done enough to stop the constant harassment. They do have a policy in place, as required by law, to stop this type of behavior in their schools. One of the most common problems with these incident is that neither of the children’s discipline can be released to the other’s parents due to privacy laws. This often makes parents believe that little or no punishment has been handed out unless they hear from other students or get a very limited report from the school’s staff.
Jim Hinton, Chief Administrative Officer of Lexington School District Two and a longtime employee of the district with years of experience in education, did say that the district has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying. He pointed out that a formal complaint needs to be filed alleging the bullying or harassment. Then, an investigation is begun. If the district’s employees find credible evidence to support the allegations, the appropriate disciplinary action is handed out. This is all spelled out in the district’s policies and procedures manual.
District Two is not alone when being accused of being lax on bullying interventions. In 2017, Lexington County School District One was accused of the same. They held a special meeting at Gilbert High School that included a special panel discussion after the superintendent of the district addressed the crowd. The group then broke up into smaller groups where they could interact with district employees and make suggestions on how the staff could make improvements in their school’s environment for children being bullied. This meeting stemmed form accusations that some children had been bullied in that district until they actually took their own lives.
District One has a hotline where students can anonymously report bullying and harassment, two very different infractions under current laws. They were also working on a system where a child could text in complaints or tips on this type of behavior.
Educators at both Districts One and Two say that the key to stopping these incidents is telling an adult every time bullying occurs, and then following up after an incident happens. They say that too often, the first incident goes unreported to the staff, and the victim only makes a complaint after many instances. Then, if the bully is allowed to return to school and the behavior continues, the victim and their parents begin feeling hopeless and don’t report the further instances.
You can find out more about Lexington School District Two by checking their website at http://www.lex2.org.