Tooele County Students
Someone Being Bullied
Female | Tooele, UT   United States
Bullying problem in Tooele schools ignored by administrators, students say
Bullying Type: Physical / Emotional
Posted By: Defend
1/29/14 11:54 AM
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A group of parents and students in the Tooele County School District say bullying is a persistent, district-wide problem and administrators seem to be turning a blind eye to it.

They gathered at a local park Tuesday evening to share their personal stories and frustrations. Kylee Dean, 16, said she’s been bullied since the eighth grade.

“They would rip necklaces off our necks and call us filthy names,” Dean said of her tormenters.

As a student at Grantsville High School, Dean said it just got worse.

“I stopped attending school, like sloughing, because it hurt so bad and I couldn’t take it anymore," she said.

Kelsey Pritchett, a sophomore at Tooele High School, found a concerning letter in her locker last Friday. The one-page, handwritten note was full of crude language and said, “You have no friends and I wish you dead.”

Pritchett gave the note to her mother, who went to school administrators. The school investigated the case, Pritchett said, and administrators looked at school security video to try and see who put the letter in her locker, but she hasn’t heard much about the investigation since then.

While the letter was hurtful, Pritchett said she’s trying to ignore it.

“I don’t want it to happen to the wrong person and have them take their (life),” she said.

The family of 16-year old Lindsy Gardner blames bullying for her suicide in November. Her stepfather declined an interview but told KSL News that Lindsy, a former student at Tooele High, reported the bullying. Little was done about it, he said, and no one from the school contacted her family. Gardner even went to an administrator just days before she took her life, her stepfather said.

He said Tooele High's principal told him the information on his stepdaughter's death would be forwarded to the Tooele Police Department.

"No one has contacted us about what they have gathered," Gardner's stepfather said in a statement.

The Tooele County School District said it can’t comment on specific cases, but the district has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying.

“In Tooele County School District, we want students to feel safe in our schools,” said Hal Strain, director of secondary schools.

Strain said each school has its own policies and programs to deal with bullying. Tooele Junior High, for example, has a texting hotline for students to report bullying.

Tooele's superintendent of schools also plans to continue community meetings to address bullying and suicide, Strain said.

"It needs to be a partnership between the parents, the students and the school; and we have to keep the communication open," he said.

But the families who showed up at the park Tuesday said they feel like they aren’t getting any help.

“The principal does nothing, and the district doesn’t return phone calls,” said Shawn Bennett, a parent who said his son was harassed then attacked by a bully at Grantsville Junior High School last year.

The bullying experience compelled Bennett to start a Facebook page to raise awareness about the issue. Bennett now home-schools his son.

Dean hopes these stories will be a wake-up call for the district. Two months ago, she switched to a private school.

“I reported it and they said they would do something, but they never did,” she said.


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Name: Tooele County Students
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