Thursday, December 7, 2023

Concerns of bullying voiced during Granbury ISD school board meeting

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During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Granbury ISD board of trustees on Oct. 16, bullying concerns were voiced by many after one bullying instance was heard around the district.

Beverly Cheney, daughter of board president Barbara Herrington spoke out about bullying around the district and noted how she was bullied when she was in school. She also shared how her mother has been bullied by members of the community.

“Bullying doesn’t just happen with kids. Adults bully. Social media and the internet don’t seem to help. There is even bullying right here in this room,” Cheney said during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Cheney then read out some of the comments her mother has received, both written and spoken, in the last three months.

“You are old, and you are used up. You will burn in the pits of hell. You should crawl in a hole and disappear. Your fruit is putrid. You are classless and ignorant. Instead of buying a plane, you should have taken the school’s money and gotten reconstructive surgery, so the public doesn’t have to look at your horrible appearance,” Cheney read during the meeting. “Not only were most of those things written by people right here in this room, some were written by people who have taken up the mantle of anti-bullying… We should all just try to be. We should try to live a life that makes people around us happy. We should all try to be better.”

Jadyn Davis and his family showed up at the school board meeting and spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting to voice their concerns with the district’s handling of a bullying incident that took place on Sept. 13.

Jadyn, a sixth-grade student at Granbury Middle School, had a student from behind put hand sanitizer into his eyes during the school day.

Jadyn’s mom, Erin, went up to speak but before speaking President Herrington asked about what Erin had done in regard to solving the issue.

Erin told Herrington she had spoken with GMS principal Andy Smith and has another meeting scheduled for Oct. 19. She also told Herrington she has already filed a level one grievance packet.

“My advice to you is, if it gets to (a) level three (grievance), you will have all the time you need in an open session to speak to the issue. It would be much better for the board if we heard your whole story rather than three minutes of it. However, that choice is yours,” Herrington said.

“Is there any way to skip level one and two if I have emails with Dr. Smith and (Superintendent) Dr. Glenn? I don’t see the point in having another meeting with the same people you’re disputing with,” Erin replied.

“By state law and board policy, you make your dispute at level one and if you’re not pleased with the result, you get there, then you move it to the next level. If again you don’t get the desired results, then you move it to the board at that point. That is the state law and how it’s done. I want to caution you that at that time, you could have all the time you need to tell your whole story. But that’s the way the procedure works,” Herrington told Davis.

“So, we follow the procedures when it comes to y’all but when it comes to my son, he has to wait more time. He’s still being bullied by the same group of kids,” Davis replied to Herrington then chose not to speak and returned to her seat.

Following Erin, her husband Micheal spoke.

“My son was assaulted at GMS. The one who assaulted him received I would say two days of in-school suspension. I do believe the code of conduct for the district is the removal of the child from the school period, not just for his actions but for the safety of our son. It’s also in the state-mandated law but that was also ignored,” Micheal said. “We asked everyone for help, and we need the help now. Not tier one or tier two or ask for everyone’s permission, ‘cause it’s our son. If it’s not our son, it’s somebody else’s son later. This is an important deal for us, and we will continue and continue to push until y’all finally hear us. Someone is going to hear us.”

Jadyn’s sister, Emily who is a seventh grader at GMS also spoke out.

“I don’t think it’s fair for the guy who hit my brother to get one day of ISS. When I asked (Jadyn) why this happened, he said ‘I don’t know. I don’t even know him’ So how is it fair for some kids to suffer, even though they are being bullied. I think what (the bully) is doing is wrong,” Emily said.

Jadyn spoke out in front of the board also.

“I am a victim of a kid at GMS that claims to be in a gang. That kid came up to me from behind and hit me two times in my eye and then rubbed hand sanitizer in my eye. Ever since then, the kids have called me cry baby and kept flicking me in the back of my head at lunch. I told my principal (Dr. Smith) this and I want to ask one question and would like an answer from the board. Why don’t you help protect me?” Jadyn said.

“That took a lot of courage for you to speak,” Trustee Melanie Graft told Jadyn.

Shelby Parks, who is a sophomore at Granbury High School also spoke out during the meeting. Parks described how she has been bullied since elementary school both to her face and behind her back. She has been bullied for being plus-size, being unathletic and being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I can confidently say that me and any other student that has been bullied in this district do not feel comfortable with the way the direction of bullying is going on and the way the district is handling it. Some not being handled in some situations,” Parks said.

Parks noted she is the Gay Straight Alliance Club secretary at GHS. Parks shared the GSA is meant to be a safe place for everyone to feel welcome noting it is not meant to be sexual or inappropriate.

“We have queer students. Acknowledge that. We have students who are being bullied and no one’s doing anything to stop it. Acknowledge that. Every student belongs here and should feel safe. Acknowledge that. Every student should be treated equal. That’s all I’m asking as a student of Granbury ISD,” Parks said.

Michael Davis also spoke on bullying, noting that bullying happens everywhere and that he had been bullied.

Monica Brown also spoke on bullying noting that Micheal Davis has been a bully to people in the community.

“There has been bullying from (Trustee) Billy Wimberly since day one. Melanie (Graft), bravo to you and (Trustee) Karen Lowery, bravo to you and all the other people who are going to stand up and speak up until somebody listens. I’ve got a grievance filed against Dr. Glenn right now and also Billy Wimberly for bullying,” Brown said, ending the public comment phase of the meeting.

Trustee Lowery shared that she was informed there were three bullying incidents in the district within the first two weeks of school and bullying has been an ongoing issue.

“We have approximately 1,200 educators in Granbury ISD. I assure you that no member of our staff, whether it’s a bus driver or a custodian or a teacher or an administrator, ever wants to see a kid bullied or not feel safe in our schools. But we also recognize that it happens, and I want to encourage parents to know there are opportunities for their kids to report not only to the teacher or administrator on campus, but they can also use on online reporting system which is in our district website.” Superintendent Jeremy Glenn told those in attendance.

He also thanked the speakers for speaking up and out on bullying.

The board moved to an agenda item considering approval of the 2023-2024 district improvement plan; it was noted bullying is further addressed under the coordinated health section of the plan.

“We have some really good goals from our strategic planning groups in that area. We have a culture committee that’s been working already and are going to meet again this week to address some of that. It’s just to take care of the whole child, their social well-being, their psychical well-being, and their mental well-being,” Assistant Superintendent Tammy Clark said. “We will continue our partnerships with Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (a telemedicine and telehealth program for school districts to help students), with Communities in Schools (a program for providing support for students), the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Brazos Pregnancy Center and all the presentations they do to make sure our kids get what they need. We also are launching Catching Kids’ Hearts for the secondary schools this year to make sure mutual respect is happening all around the schools. We are also doing Can Do You for secondary campuses which are short sessions that help students learn character-building traits, problem-solving traits and some conflict-managing traits and they do that through their advisory classes. At our elementary campuses we do character education.

The district improvement plan passed with a 7-0 vote.

For bullying concerns or to view the student handbook regarding bullying visit the GISD website at granburyisd.org. Anonymous reporting of bullying is also available via the websit