As kids are back in school, parents hope they do well and get along with classmates, but that doesn’t always happen.
A St. Joseph mother says her daughter was picked on to the point she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The mother contacted KCTV5 News when she felt like the St. Joseph School District didn’t take bullying seriously and wants her child to be homebound schooled, where a student does lessons at home but still has teacher support.
Anna has been hospitalized and diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD.
“Terrified. To go there and to know I was going to be in that situation,” she said.
Anna was a brand new student at Skaith Elementary.
“She was fairly happy, and then the BB gun incident happened,” Anna’s mother, Frances Keitz, said.
Keitz said her daughter was targeted by boys for telling teachers about that gun. She says Anna was kicked in the head on the playground, and then the rest of the class slowly turned on her daughter too.
“If I asked to sit down, they would tell me that I couldn’t sit there or they would literally push me out of the group and have all their friends together and block spots … go to the extra table by myself,” Anna said.
Anna describes a combination of taunts and social isolation. The kids picked on her clothes and her long hair.
“They wrapped my hair around my neck and said I can choke myself with it,” Anna said.
Keitz filed two police reports then began joining her daughter every day for lunch. Then, she stayed for the library where she says kids would pick on her daughter.
“It’s not drama. You know she’s begging for help,” Keitz said.
Keitz said, ironically, she was the one who got in trouble. She was banned from school property for being disruptive.
“Your conduct at Skaith is interfering with the learning environment there and has become an undue distraction to the staff and students at the school,” the school district said in a letter to Keitz.
Keitz said the district considers her a problem parent. The district said they can’t comment on specific cases, but the superintendent agreed to speak about bullying in general.
“We take appropriate action whether that’s disciplining the instigator behind that or whatever actions to happen to stop it,” superintendent Robert Newhart said.
The school district began an anti-bullying program about 10 years ago. Like most schools, bullying is officially banned and now part of school board policy. Bullying and hazing are defined, and students are encouraged to report it.
Tina Meier’s daughter, Megan Meier, should be 23 years old, but she died 10 years ago. She hung herself in her closet. She was the victim of cyber bullying. Today, Tina Meier runs the Megan Meier Foundation.
“No one understands it until you’ve walked in those shoes. And it’s truly devastating when you have a kid that is not fitting in,” Meier said.
Meier said schools and parents have the same goals of helping kids, but emotions can run high.
“Parents come in and they are out of control, upset, angry and hurt. They don’t know what to do they come in like a fireball,” Meier said.
Meier advises parents to remain calm, try to get as many specific details as possible, keep a log and try to keep your child involved in activities, especially those away from problem students.
“I don’t know how to put it, she’s just not my kid. She’s totally withdrawn,” Keitz said.
Keitz said therapy and medication are helping her daughter, but she wants the district to allow her back on school property. Plus, she wants a homebound school option recommended by Anna’s counselors.
In the meantime, Anna has a message for some her classmates.
“You ruined my life. You have hurt me in so many ways I cannot count. You don’t have the right to do this to anyone at all,” she said.
The St. Joseph School District is allowing Anna to be homebound schooled, but they are agreeing to eight-week increments.
Keitz said those deadlines are stressful for her daughter. She wants homebound schooling as a permanent option for this school year no deadlines.
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