Since the suicide of Irish girl Phoebe Prince last January, half a dozen students have come forward with allegations of bullying by other kids in South Hadley schools.
The mother of a South-Hadley middle school boy, who plans to seek criminal charges against her child’s aggressors, said it’s time something was done.
“The school had the opportunity to fix this,” said the South Hadley mom, whose 12-year-old son attends Michael E. Smith Middle School, where he was allegedly bullied for months right up to the end of school in June.
“The irony is I moved here because of the school system. Now, my son wants me to leave because of it,” she told the Boston Herald.
The concerned mother said her son’s head was “slammed into lockers” several times. He was also pounced on and called names while in the school grounds and via text message, leading her to pay $4.95 a month to block texts from the alleged bully.
A July 15 hearing has been set on the case in juvenile court in Hadley.
“The vice principal told me my son wasn’t the only victim, but he was the main one,” said the mother.
“It got to the point where, when my son would come home from school, the question I’d ask him wasn’t, ‘What did you learn in school today?’ It was, ‘What did (the alleged bully) do today?’ ”
The mother complained to school officials “dozens of times” about her son’s bully.
The alleged bully has since filed a cross-complaint.
This week the town of South Hadley adopted new bullying rules and two months ago passed a state law requiring school districts to investigate bullying in their educational institutes.
Northwestern Deputy First Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Dunphy Farris said bullying reports in the district are on the up and up.
“As a general matter, we have several cases from South Hadley and other cities and towns within our district that fit the definition of bullying as recently adopted by the state legislature,” Dunphy Farris said.
The child’s mother retained the services of lawyer Abigail Williams on behalf of her son, after attempts to work with school officials to stop her son from being bullied proved fruitless.
Williams said in the last month she has received complaints from a dozen parents, half of them from South Hadley. Williams said she has been able to resolve all of them, except those out of the western Massachusetts town.
“Once it gets to this point,” Williams said, “nobody wins.”
Williams is giving priority to cases in which kids are in immediate jeopardy and in which there is documentation of bullying and documentation that school officials nonetheless have failed to successfully stop the bullying.