Pasco School District says bullying is becoming a buzzword

7:07 PM, Nov 19, 2013   |    comments
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New Port Richey, Florida -- A Pasco County School parent believes her 14-year-old daughter was bullied by high school seniors but both she and her daughter's complaints were not properly addressed.

"She came home one day and I could tell something was physically bothering her and of course I said, 'tell me,' " said mother Sylvia Spencer. "She said the two girls standing next to her in dance class, go like this [showing a hand shaped like a gun], and say they rather blow their brains out than stand next to her."

Spencer's daughter had complained about one bully in her dance class. She told her mother she was being called names. Spencer told her to tell her teacher. Her teacher moved her to a different line in their dance class but then she was standing next to friends of the accused bully.

"The teacher did not fix the problem, so I emailed her and also emailed and talked with the assistant principal," said Spencer. "He emailed me back saying he could not reveal any disciplinary action but only said our bullying claims were being investigated."

Spencer did her own investigating to find out more about the alleged bully. She found her Facebook page and one day after the name-calling her daughter told her about, it said, "I'm going to kill somebody. I am ready to hurry up and graduate..." Spencer found those words threatening to her daughter.

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"My daughter has seen these girls' friends beat up her friend earlier this year and she was afraid she was next," said Spencer. "Her friend even suffered from a concussion and had to go to the hospital."

Spokesperson for Pasco County Schools, Linda Cobbe addressed Spencer's case.

"Her bullying claims were investigated and we did not find proof her daughter was bullied according to our Florida State Statute on bullying," said Cobbe.

The statue defines bullying as: Systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students and may involve: teasing, social exclusion, threat, intimidation, stacking, physical violence, theft, sexual, religious, or racial harassment, public or private humiliation or destruction of property.

The school also released a checklist of proof of bullying, of which Cobbe said Spencer and her daughter's claims did not meet.

"It's not unusual for parents or guardians to not agree with the outcome," said Cobbe. "I think that bullying has lost its meaning. I think it is a buzzword that is often used for kids to get out of trouble. However, I also think that the state's definition can be too narrow at times. Parents use it a lot when they perceive their child has been treated unfairly or wrongly by other students."

Other local districts have similar policies to Pasco County Schools.  Hillsborough also includes online bullying reporting and includes the same state statute definition.

Spencer moved her daughter to a different high school almost two weeks ago. She has not complained of bullying since her transfer.

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