Bullying response ‘negligent’

Published 9:28 pm Friday, June 15, 2012

Clint and Teri Rose are dissatisfied with the school district’s response to the alleged bullying of their son Chase at Southwestern Elementary School.

Suffolk Public Schools is under pressure to do more to help an alleged bullying victim after the former Southwestern Elementary student’s family accused the district of “gross negligence.”

Clint Rose told the News-Herald that his 11-year-old special needs son Chase, entering grade six in the new school year, was left suicidal after prolonged bullying at Southwestern.

Rose said his son has Asperger syndrome, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and dysgraphia — which impairs writing ability — and has developed post-traumatic stress disorder after verbal assaults from students and “negligent” responses by some Southwestern staff and school officials.

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Chase has spent a week in Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center after displaying suicidal behavior, sees a neurological specialist monthly at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, and, after finally being pulled from the Suffolk Public Schools system, has been attending the Chesapeake Bay Academy, his father said.

The Rose family is asking Suffolk Public Schools to pay for Chase’s continuing education at CBA, including transportation.

Asked to respond to a detailed email Clint Rose sent to Superintendent Deran Whitney and School Board members, division spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw stated by email, “The school division believes every child should feel safe at school, so every report of bullying is taken seriously and is thoroughly investigated by administrators.

“We cannot discuss specific investigations and outcomes because protecting the privacy of our students is also important, particularly involving the identity of an alleged bully victim.”

Clint Rose said he and wife Teri became aware just before the Christmas break that a bully had allegedly been targeting their son.

The incidents came to a head with a verbal attack in early March, according to Clint Rose.

After making two unsuccessful verbal attempts to stop the attack, his son told his alleged assailant, “If you don’t leave me alone, I am going to hit you over the head with a sledgehammer,” Rose continued.

“They pulled him into the office, interrogated him, promising him things they couldn’t follow though (on); he said, ‘Dad, they lied to me.’

“My son reported the police walked by him several times … talking about a student saying he’s going to kill somebody.

“He was extremely worried about being taken to jail and not being able to see his parents again.”

Chase received a 10-day suspension, which was reduced on appeal, Rose said.

Shortly afterward, Chase was again allegedly verbally assaulted, this time on the bus, Clint Rose said, adding that he has viewed and heard video footage with audio of the incident, but has been denied a copy of his own.

“Out of nowhere you hear somebody shout, ‘I’m not afraid of you, I will bring my shotgun to school,’” he said.

Rose asked for permission to play a recording of the audio while addressing Thursday’s School Board meeting; School Board Attorney Wendell M. Waller denied the request on the basis that the privacy of other students may be invaded.

“They tried to tell us it was Chase, but it did not sound like Chase in the least bit,” Clint Rose said.

Chase is visible in the footage but has his back to the camera, Rose told the meeting.

“That’s when we pulled him from the school system. He was emotionally a wreck,” he said before the meeting.

Teri Rose quit her job and spent a year volunteering in the classroom to support her son, Clint Rose said.

Rose said he also tried to support his son by going to the classroom and asking the children to stop bullying Chase, “which led to more teasing.”

Chase’s therapist Michael Buxton also spoke at Thursday’s meeting, explaining to School Board members that returning him to a Suffolk public school would aggravate the PTSD.

Buxton also outlined his view that the school district has exhibited a “systematic pattern of negligence” in responding to the alleged bullying.

Clint Rose told the News-Herald,  “Right now he’s not capable of returning to the public school system, and they’re basically in denial.”