“So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”
Today was rough, I’m not going to lie my friends…it makes a body feel hopeless and more than a little like giving up. I sat here thinking thru my life and pondered over all the tough shit I’ve lived through but could not think of a single thing (no matter how shocking) that hurt my heart and soul more than what we are struggling with right now. I’d DIE for these kids and to have my hands tied, to be turned away by everyone I’ve asked to help my daughter and to be told there is nothing to be done now….I die a little inside every time.
I have called/contacted anyone and everyone we could think of – from local to federal and back again. I’ve contacted as many bullying organizations that I can as well. The answer is always the same – that isn’t our jurisdiction but I can refer you to someone. After a few weeks of that, the list started to peter out and it was more like “sorry we can’t do anything” or “gee you should have started with law enforcement three years ago”. Now we are lucky if anyone bothers to call us back.
Today I got a letter from the District Attorney for our area. It said a whole lot of nothing so I decided to call the office to clarify. Here is that letter:
Firstly the lady who answered the phone was pretty snotty. Secondly, she was very unhelpful. When I finally found out they were all in court I asked her if there was anyone else who I could speak with and gave a brief description. She said no. So I told her I had no problem calling the other local office and if they couldn’t help me I would go back up the chain to Washington. She wanted to keep telling me what they couldn’t do and interrupting me so I asked her if she would just please send me to voicemail and I would leave him a message and make my other calls. She finally did so and I called the other DA office as soon as I got off the phone. While the other woman was very nice, she told me that office was in court as well, but offered me the name of the guy there I should speak with and I left him a message as well.
Mister Drew Robinson, the Assistant DA, finally called me back around noon. As our conversation progressed I became more and more frustrated with his attitude. He told me that there was nothing the DA could do unless charges had been filed by the school or law enforcement – they don’t get involved until that point. He wanted to keep insinuating there was no ‘official’ problem and when I mentioned the two suicides this year, he denied any knowledge of the two young people in the same school district who had taken their lives this year due to the bullying issue in our schools. He also said there must not have been any solid evidence or proof if nothing had ever come of our complaints to the school.
I asked what the recourse was if the school had dropped the ball or refused to press charges and explained that the police/state troopers had told me on two separate occasions they couldn’t file charges or didn’t see where either side could. Nothing, was the answer he gave me. In order to clear any ambiguity I asked him “so if the school has destroyed or failed to maintain records of these incidents, there is absolutely nothing I can do?” and he said that was indeed the case. I asked him then if that meant there was no protection for these children, that the school could do whatever they wanted to and he definitely skated around directly answering me. Did repeat what he said about something having to be filed in court before any action on their part but when I told him that one family was already filing suit, he seriously dared to say that there must have been some sort of compelling evidence or proof in that case. I said “yes, a dead body, does my daughter have to die too for us to get help?” Completely silent on his end before launching back into his run-around speech. When he got back around to there not being a systematic issue here, I pinned him down with the fact that the superintendent – Dr. James Jones himself has said, on camera, in several of the news reports locally, there IS an issue but they’re “working on it”.
Even when I told him they were attempting to charge her with assault and that she was put on real deal probation without conviction, trial or charges he seemed unconcerned. He actually said there must have been a reason……we should have spoken with an attorney. I told him we DID have an attorney so he tried to lay blame on him saying he must have made a deal behind our back basically. When I informed him that was not the case, that we walked in and that is what they presented to us. I even told him the judge must have felt it wasn’t serious enough to warrant pursuit and decided to offer us the 6 month deferral of it so they can verify, no she ISN’T a troublemaker. When time is up and there isn’t any issues, they have to drop it and it will be expunged…..provided they don’t pull another one of their dirty tricks.
The DA (who by the way, never even indicated they were involved or bothered to call our attorney back before court) was the one who insisted on probation, in fact they flat refused to do anything without her having to report. They wanted to send her to teenage character classes (the judge refused) and kept trying to insist when that did not happen, as well as the fact that they wanted to make her go to their counselor even though she has been seeing an excellent one since the bullying issue began. In fact, I put her in counseling after that little pervert touched her the first time and told her he would do it whenever he wanted. The judge again refused them after I explained she has been seeing someone regularly for a while now and she would be much more comfortable with him. So they lost on that front too. Y’all would seriously freak if I told you what probation entails as far as the “rules”. I also have to prove she is progressing in school, even though TN no longer has jurisdiction over her schooling, as well as prove she is seeing a counselor and making positive progress there too. Basically I cannot let her go anywhere without me being there because I don’t trust them not to pull some BS because they didn’t get what they wanted. I REFUSE to back down or be afraid of these petty little tyrants.
I also did not get any sufficient response on the fact that the investigator, Calvin Lockholt, the DA sent out here did not speak to us, my daughter or even look at what evidence we DO have. He just stopped by the Sheriff’s office, listened to some nasty gossip and left. Then never bothered to call us back. He wanted to tell me he explained all this in his letter and I told him he didn’t, it said a whole lot of nothing. So after being told for the billionth time there would be no help I told him that yes, I guess I did need to leave a message with Mr. Lockholt and he told me he would do so. Now ask me if I believe him…..
I’m sorry I was ever reasonable with this school system. I hate that I didn’t call the cops the first time and every time after that. I didn’t want to be THAT parent….but turns out, you have to be that parent. They will lie right to your face and then do everything they can to protect their own asses, jobs and the gravy train they ride. If you think they care about your kids you are sorely mistaken. I’m begging you all, please don’t be the nice parent!! Get everything in writing, get copies of what they are “promising” to do, get copies of any video and do NOT let them tell you they can’t – that it is protected under FERPA because it is NOT. Make them send you a report saying how they handled it and specifically what they are doing to ensure it does not happen again. Don’t let them sweet talk you or make you feel like you are being completely OCD!! If you have a meeting where notes are taken, make sure you get a copy of what they write as well or they might “accidentally” lose proof you ever had any issues. Whenever an issue happens, take notes on what happened, what was said, who you talked to, the date, the time, what they plan to do and the names of who was involved. If your child is old enough, have them write down what happened in their own words. Then make sure you follow up until they give you an answer on the issue. Even if the school refuses to charge the bully – you can go to the courthouse yourself and file papers. They don’t tell you that fact either. Don’t let them brush you off or say there isn’t anything to charge anyone with.
I hate that they can shatter our lives with a lie and walk away. I hate that we are on the losing end and we are the victims here. I loathe small town politics and power families who think they can’t be touched. I’m not saying that ALL teachers and ALL public schools are bad – but the system is definitely broken and instead of serving families and children – most only serve themselves.
Hug your babies close tonight, say a little prayer or send some good mojo our way, and please listen to what your kids aren’t telling you about between the words as they tell you about their day. Everyone likes to brush off bullying as a harmless childhood occurrence we cannot stop but it KILLS and destroys the lives of innocent children and families. From my family to yours – many blessings – Namaste my warrior friends. Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed.