Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mom wants son in new school after attack

Says division should pay for transport

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An Anola mother is demanding the Sunrise School Division move her seven-year-old son to another school and pay for his transportation costs after a nine-year-old classmate hit him with a chair and lunch box.

"He wants to transfer schools, because he's really sad," the victim's mother said. "If that child is going back (to Anola School) in September, he is not. They better find him another school and transportation."

Attacker's letter

Here's the letter a nine-year-old Anola boy wrote to the seven-year-old boy he attacked in school. The victim's mother says the letter constitutes the older boy's family blaming her son for the incident:

"I will explain. I took my lunch kit and thought I might put it away. And there were two paths to take, the first one around the grade three desks, but the second path, was around the grade two area. But you were in the way, and I didn't realize that. So the path I should've taken was the path around the grade three desks but I didn't instead, I decided that I better take the quickest path, which, was to go around your area which was the grade two section. So when I went to go to put my lunch away, you were in the way. And that's when I realized you were in the way. So I asked you to move. But I didn't realize that (a third boy) was stuffing pencils down your back on purpose. So again I asked you to move and then again and then I yelled it to you in your face but you were still busy dealing with (the third boy) and then I hit you in the face with my lunch kit and it knocked you down off your chair then put the chair on top of you and went and put my lunch kit away and totally ignored you and walked away and sat at my desk. So I am very, very sorry for doing that and will never do it again."

-- the letter is signed by the older boy. The victim's mother supplied the email

The mother is furious the division has not moved her son's attacker out of the school, and accused senior administrators and other staff of repeatedly lying to her over the past three weeks. She has filed a police report over the June 10 incident.

Her son received medical treatment, will undergo counselling and refused to return to Anola School since being attacked by an older classmate in his grades 2 and 3 blended classroom during lunchtime, she said.

"This child is on a field trip today while my kid sits at home -- go figure," the mother said before classes ended for the summer.

The situation shows just how difficult it can be for schools to deal with bullying incidents.

The nine-year-old boy was suspended, is under scrutiny, is receiving counselling and has apologized in writing. The Sunrise division appears to be following all the normal protocols in trying to work with everyone involved to see that nothing further happens.

Superintendent Wayne Leckie is severely limited in what strict provincial privacy laws allow him to say, but agreed to talk generally about bullying.

"Usually they try to resolve it at the school level first," he said, but unresolved situations next go to the superintendent. Leckie then brings together a suspension-review team, which includes staff and clinicians, all of whom meet with the parents of the alleged bully.

The superintendent meets separately with the victim's family.

"We'll look at some way for (the bully) to return to school, some remediation of behaviour" intended to prevent more bullying. "We're trying to restore the situation -- we've done all that in every situation," Leckie said.

"The suspension is meant to separate the parties so there's no acceleration," he said. "That would usually take five days."

Leckie said if parents are dissatisfied with his handling of the situation, they can go before the board of trustees.

"We don't have that many. In the years I've been here, maybe two or three" go to the trustees, Leckie said. "The emotions the parents are going through can be exacerbated, and that can complicate things."

He always tells families to concentrate on the welfare of the children, and not on other issues or people, Leckie said.

Nevertheless, said the victim's mother, "They just want me to go away."

Under provincial rules preventing his talking about specific incidents, Leckie could not address her allegations it took the school two hours to alert the woman and her husband, nor her claims the adult lunchroom supervisor was not present when her son was attacked.

The mother said the letter of apology from the older boy constitutes that boy's parents blaming her son for the incident.

The older boy's parents did not respond to an interview request.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2013 A13

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