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Mother tells story of child being bullied




Beth Velliquette

Monday, March 20, 2017

A woman, speaking in Spanish, told a story about how her child had been bullied at an after-school program. When she finished, translator Juan Garcia was near tears.

“It’s a little bit emotional,” Garcia said after he heard the story.

The story was told during a workshop Friday evening sponsored by AMEXCAN. Travis Lewis of Pitt County Schools was on hand to talk to about 18 parents about the school system, its programs and how they can help their children succeed in school.

One of the topics was about bullying, and that’s when the woman, a parent of an elementary age child, said that her son was constantly bullied and harassed by another child at the after-school program at the Boys & Girls Club just down the road on the Belvoir Highway.

She took her child to the doctor, Garcia translated when he was able to regain his composure, and the doctor had a checklist for the child to answer questions. At the bottom of the checklist, the little boy wrote, “Save me.”

He was desperate, Garcia said.

Lewis answered that the school system does not oversee the Boys & Girls Clubs, but it does work with the clubs and would attempt to find out who the student was who was bullying the other child and try to help.

“He’s not going to be successful in school if he’s scared all day long to go to the after-school program,” Lewis said about the boy who was bullied.

During his presentation, Lewis said that since the beginning of the school year, there have been 220 office referrals for bullying and 21 for cyber-bullying as of March 1.

Last year, during the full school year, there were 431 office referrals for bullying and 29 for cyber-bullying, Lewis said.

Once a student is accused of bullying, the school meets with the student and tries to involve the student’s parents. If nothing works to stop the bullying, a student could be suspended for up to seven days, he said.

Of the 23,393 students in the Pitt County school system, 11.6 percent are Hispanic, he said.

Lewis talked to the parents about programs at the schools that may be useful and the changes that have been made with the schools’ websites, which can now be translated into about 60 languages, he said.

Each of the schools also has a similar webpage so parents can navigate through the pages to find what they need, he said.

He also recommended the Pitt County Schools smartphone app, in which parents can see and receive instant messages, such as a notice that a school bus is late or of an event, he said.

He questioned them about an alert system to find out if the Spanish translation was correct, and the parents said it was not. He promised the school system would work with the company that provides the alert system to try to improve the translations.

Open enrollment, which allows students to apply to attend a school outside their districts, begins April 3, Lewis told parents. He told them about the schools and the programs that were part of the open-enrollment process and the importance of getting applications in early.

More information is available on the websites, or parents can go to C.M. Eppes Middle School on Tuesday from 8 a.m. to noon or Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. to visit the system’s English as a Second Language Welcome and Resource Center.

The center provides help and advice to anyone who have children who speak English as a second language.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.