Survey about Meridian Elementary School: Bullying is a Big Concern

When Gilbert Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield allowed Sarah to review the complete file from Denise Lowell-Britt's investigation, Sarah was surprised to find a survey about Meridian Elementary School that was conducted in December 2010.

The survey shows parents of students at Meridian Elementary School were well aware of the extent of bullying ...just before Sarah reported bullying in her classroom on February 7, 2011. Sarah's report of bullying directly caused a spiral of events that led to Superintendent Dave Allison recommending to the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board to begin the process to dismiss Sarah.

The following survey was mentioned in the A+ Schools application that Sarah submitted in January 2011, but Principal Vicki Hester would not let Sarah see this survey to prepare the application. Bullying was a topic in the survey and comments. Excerpts appear below:

2010 Meridian Parent Survey Zoomerang
Date: 12/2/2010 9:17 AM PST

#16. Bullying is not a problem at this school
Agree: 127 (73%)
Disagree 46 (27%)
#17. I feel my child is safe at school.

Response 7. Our children are safe as long as they stay away from all the bullies that keep being allowed to run the school.

#18, If there are other comments, please share them here:

Responses (text is uncorrected):

3. " ...I know that my son suffered with the bulling while at the school.

6. "There has been several issues with other children picking on each other and it being over looked or dismissed. There has been several instances with my own child being hit punched pushed and bullied and nothing was done about it..."

7. "In relation to #16. My child is strong so it's not a problem but she talks about and has for 4 years how boys at school are very mean and often pick on her a lot -- even call her racial type slurs. For her she handles it and puts them in their place but I'm not sure how well another child would handle that. It has concerned me."

9. ..."I do believe bullying occurs but ir cold be out of your control. Most of the time it occurs on the playground and teachers are too busy conversing to notice. My daughter has been bullied as far as clothing but I chalk this up to poor parenting and just downright obnoxious, snobby, rich kids trying to make others feel bad. My son has been punched, scratched and pushed. He is not a small child, but as a first grader, other children that are older don't really care. ..."

12. ..."I am not sure that some of the older kids know that teasing, making fun of other kids, purposely laughing at kids is a form of bullying. I have heard a group of girls say let stare at "so & so" and watch this person to make them uncomfortable. It was my child, they did not known I was her mother and was standing close by. Just about every day they laugh at her or stare at her and pretend to say stuff about her and then laugh out loud. I have seen them do this at school events and during pick up. One day my husband was with me and he saw them doing this to her as well. If I reported this my daughter would be embarrassed, one of these girls was physical with her last year and my child just wants this to all go way. I have talked to my about being the bigger person and that they are just being a bully and to ignore them. As an adult this sounds easy, but for her it's hard. She try's to wear the right clothes, shoes, and hair styles, but it doesn't matter with this group. I have told my child all that matters is whats inside of her and the person that she is. I would like to hear more about bully being discussed at school, and parents informed when there are issues of their child bullying other kids. I know the school has talked about this, but I don't think the message is sinking in or the kids bullying just don't care. Maybe there should be tougher consequences and teachers should really listen to kids when they say stuff about others laughing or harassing them."

18. "...My child has been bullied by 2kids at school. I don't think it is the school's fault, but bullying does occur. I spoke personally with the 2 kids and the bullying has stopped for the time being."

31. "I have worked/visited/volunteered throughout many of the GPS schools and have seen more of the other schools pinciples within short amounts of time than I have of Mrs. Hester since my children started attending Meridian 5 years ago. I do not believe she handles bullying within the school in a serious enough manner...."

41. "...Bullying is an issue there and the groups of kids that pick on one or two should be addressed..."

47. "We removed our children from Meridian due to inadequate teachers, bullying and the low academic progress we saw in our children..."

50. "Too much shoving & pushing -- taunting -- name calling on the playground, in the hallways & in the classroom while the teacher is trying to teach -- I feel the students are developing a real serious "pecking" order -- I personally think a lot of this is coming from the home environment and then to the school -- AND I am not saying my child is perfect, but he is being influenced by unacceptable behavior coming from his school friends."

Teachers are required by law to report bullying. After Sarah reported bullying, she was harassed and retaliated against in ways large and small for months. Sarah also reported racial discrimination at Meridian Elementary School, filing a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after GPS superintendents said nothing would be done about such discrimination. In November 2011, Superintendent Dave Allison demanded that Sarah withdraw her EEOC charge and resign as a teacher in Gilbert Public Schools OR BE FIRED.

Sarah refused to withdraw her EEOC charge. Sarah also refused to resign.

Now that you know what Gilbert Public Schools does to teachers who report bullying, do you think that anyone will ever "see" bullying on a school campus, let alone report it?

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Gilbert Public Schools, Arizona Anti-Bullying Law, racial discrimination, elementary school bullying, classroom bully, GPS, Superintendent Dave Allison, Assistant Superintendent Clyde Dangerfield, Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Nikki Blanchard, Assistant Superintendent Shane McCord, Highland Park Elementary School principal Jason Martin, Meridian Elementary School principal Vicki Hester, GPS, attorney Denise Lowell-Britt, Udall, Shumway & Lyons, Mesa, attorney Matthew W. Wright, Holm Wright Hyde & Hays, Phoenix, attorney Donald Peder Johnsen, Gallagher & Kennedy, Phoenix, Civil rights, violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 703, national origin discrimination, retaliation for engaging in protected activities, retaliation for association with protected persons, illegal retaliation, hostile work environment, harassment, dismissal of certificated teacher, Arizona Revised Statutes, ARS 15-539, Arizona Civil Rights Act, Arizona Attorney General, Arizona Civil Rights Division, United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, General Prohibition Against Unlawful Discrimination and Harassment, fire teacher, National Board Certified Teacher, dismiss teacher for reporting bullying and racial discrimination, defamation, destroying a teacher's reputation, Gilbert Unified School District, GUSD, due process,