Signs in the hands of South Buffalo Charter School students are expressing a message close to their hearts. They're concerned with bullying that they say is happening inside the building. Close to two dozen protested outside the school Wednesday morning. “I want to make a change. I want bullying to stop,” said Jessica McNaughton.
Mcnaughton is an eighth grader at the school. She said she was bullied at school several years ago. “They'd call me all these mean names and once I got my head slammed into a locker.” “I went to the school and complained, quite a few times and nothing was ever done,” said Jessica’s mother, Tammy.
That's why they’re taking a stand against bullies. They aren’t alone. Other parents agree that something needs to change. “Kids are being singled out one by one but if they stand together the bullies aren't going to do it anymore. So, hopefully this makes a change. If it doesn't make a change right away, hopefully more and more people come together and it does make a change,” said father of two students,” Joseph Flanagan.
Brian Wiesinger is the school superintendent. He couldn't say how many bullying reports the school has received this year and he wouldn't address any specific case. But, he did say every allegation is investigated. “Obviously, it's a very serious issue that faces I think any school and we do take it seriously. There are parents that have concerns and they've not brought them forward, then I encourage them to do so.”
Wiesinger said the school has an aggressive disciplinary policy in place. It ranges from a warning, to suspension, and in severe cases: expulsion. Wiesinger said some students have been suspended for bullying this year. Although, none have been expelled.
Students like Jessica McNaughton said she'd like to see the school being more proactive rather than reactive. “I think we could all make up a program or something to work together to stop this.” “Something needs to be done,” added her mom. “I know this is nationwide. So, bullying needs to stop, all around.”
First Student is contracted with the charter school to provide transportation. A spokesman for the company told 7 Eyewitness News that it had never received any reports of bullying related to Zion Halsey. It also confirms no bus aides were ever present during his transportation.