Parents, School District Discuss Bullying Concerns

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A video posted on Facebook has sparked a conversation about school bullying. The post shows two boys getting into a fight in a George McGovern Middle School bathroom. The video angered many parents, and one says this is not the only incident that’s taken place at the middle school.

“She’s made comments about not wanting to go school, and she even brought up the subject about suicide,” says Lacey Wardell.

Wardell says her daughter has been bullied emotionally, “saying why don’t you just go kill yourself,” and physically several times at McGovern Middle School, particularly in school buses.

“One of them actually got pretty severe that now we’re going to be going to court,” says Wardell.

Wardell has talked to administrators about the incidents, but feels more should be done.

“The school more or less just talked to the students and that’s basically it, and it still has continued,” says Wardell.

“I think we address is better today than we ever have, and we still don’t have a handle on it,” says Sioux Falls School District Superintendent, Dr. Brian Maher.

Dr. Maher says the district is aware of the bullying issues.

“Certainly, we don’t condone it, it’s not tolerated and it’s never dismissed,” he says.

Every time a school is made aware any form of harassment, there’s a thorough investigation that takes place. Disciplinary actions depend on the severity and frequency of the actions ranging from a warning to short term suspension and even expulsion. For those more serious cases, law enforcement gets involved.

“If I’m walking down the hall and I get tripped, that’s a school issue,” says Dr. Maher. “If I’m walking down the hall and I get called a name, that’s a school issue. If I get in a fight, that’s a police matter. It’s also a school issue.”

Dr. Maher says administrators can’t tell another parent how a student was disciplined, per federal law.

“There’s a frustration there, because we’re limited in what we can say and that frustrates parents,” he says.

Wardell hopes whatever action they’re taking for her daughter, that it sticks.

“At least kick them off the bus for a day or sit down and figure out another disciplinary action, because this is still continuing,” she says.

As far as the video posted online of the boys fighting in the restroom, the Superintendent says they can’t disclose any information on what actions are being taken.

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