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Dad: Son was victim of bullies, CPS principal didn’t take it seriously

Updated: December 15, 2013 11:55AM



In Joseph Parker’s eyes, his 11-year-old son is a perfect target for bullies.

He is a “little guy, wears glasses, and gets A’s and B’s” at an elementary school in a low-income neighborhood where some students have to fend for themselves.

Heck, at his son’s age, Parker was wearing a house key on a string around his neck.

But he and his wife, Taneisha, work hard to spare their four children from taking on adult responsibilities.

So you can imagine how upset these parents were last Friday when the sixth-grader came home with a chipped tooth that he said was the result of being “bullied.”

“I had gotten him a nice haircut,” noted Parker.

His son told him that “the guys were slapping him upside the head, and he was trying to get away. One of the kids stuck his foot out and tripped him and he slammed into a wall and chipped his tooth,” the father said.

But school officials told a different version of the incident. Although Docilla Pollard, the principal at Andrew Carnegie Elementary School, did not return phone calls about this matter, a Chicago Public Schools source described the incident as involving only “two students running in the hallway and one of the students tripped and fell.”

Parker doesn’t buy that explanation, and he thinks the principal didn’t take the situation seriously.

“After it happened, he was told to go upstairs and find his tooth, and everybody laughed,” Parker said.

“If indeed there is a report of bullying made to a school official that a parent makes on behalf of their child, our safety and security team, along with the school leadership will conduct a very thorough and comprehensive investigation into those claims,” said Keiana Barrett, press secretary for Chicago Public Schools.

“Chicago Public Schools does not tolerate any act of bullying and is committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students,” she said.

Barrett said school officials have no record of Parker’s son complaining about being bullied.

In any case, Parker said his son came home that day so upset that he went upstairs and broke his $400 Kindle Fire.

“He didn’t want to tell on those guys, but he has been getting bullied for a while,” he said.

Back in the day, my parents had their own way of handling bullies.

When we came running home, my mother would open the door and push us back out to confront our tormentors.

If Parker were to do something like that today, the police would arrest him. The concerned father could be charged with a crime and locked up in jail, not to mention lose his good-paying job.

“I’m not taking my child out of the school, because he is doing great in school. I just didn’t know what to do as a parent,” the father told me. “I don’t want my son to feel like he has to hurt anybody, and I don’t want nobody to hurt him.”

Next time his son complains about bullying, Parker should not wait around for the principal to grant him an audience to air his complaints.

Parker should go online and access the Chicago Public Schools’ anti-bullying policy and fill out Attachment A. Sometimes so-called “horseplay” is really “bullying,” especially when one of the players is always the victim.

In the meantime, maybe it’s time for these parents to get this child outside help — counseling or even martial arts training — so that he is able to better assert himself.

Too often boys who are bullied end up joining gangs for protection.

All this parent really wanted was assurances that his son would be left alone to learn.

He shouldn’t have had to call the media to be heard.

Email: marym@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST



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