14-year-old victim of bullying removed from school
Reporter: Steve Nunez
MARANA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - A 14-year old Marana girl says her classmates, some who she thought were her best friends, began bullying her day, after day, after day. Her parents say they filed report, after report, after report. But the school district says parents must share the responsibility when it comes to helping them keep students in line.
Madison, an 8th grader, claims a group of students, including girls and boys, bullied her on the school bus, in the hallways and in the classroom.
"I got jabbed in the stomach," said Madison. "They started calling me names, like whore, slut, white trash,"
Madison's parents, Becky and Jeff, claim they reported at least 18 different incidents with school administrators. But nothing was done.
"It's affected the whole family," said a tearful Becky Bungard.
The Bungard's claim when Marana Middle School failed to punish the students doing the bullying, they withdrew Madison from school.
Now, they want the school to change the way it punished students.
"When you kick them out of school and say you're suspended for 3 days and now your parents have to find somebody to watch you while they're at work maybe that'll get the parents attention," said Jeff Bungard.
So 9 On Your Side went to district headquarters to get answers.
Assistant Superintendent Jan Truitt told us student privacy laws prohibit her from talking about the Bungard's case.
Nunez asked: "Does a zero tolerance policy mean that bullying does not occur in school?"
"No," answered Truitt.
However, Truitt said, in general, the schools discipline policy does list suspension or detention when an administrator or governing board deem such action to be appropriate.
"If students have violated the law then clearly we get law enforcement involved," said Truitt.
But when investigating each case, Truitt admits getting to the facts is tough, when in most cases, officials are forced to rely on other students as key witnesses.
That's why Truitt said administrator's almost always rely on parents to also keep their kids in line.
"But if parents don't give us permission to do some of those things with students to have them involved with an intervention specialist or with a counselor then our hands can be tied in addressing the situation," said Truitt.
And as 9 On Your Side learned while investigating this case, in at least one report, a student accused Madison of putting gum in her hair.
We asked Madison if, she too, is guilty of bullying.
Madison paused, and then said, "It was revenge."
The Bungard's claim they tried to get involved but the school did not do enough to get the other parents to cooperate.
Marana School District tells 9 On Your Side it has a counselor in every school to work with students and to actively teach students about bullying.