April 16, 2010

 

 

Attn: Brenda Ryan

Birdville Independent School District

Office of the Associate Superintendent

6125 East Belknap

Haltom City, TX 76117

 

Re: Request for Appeal of Level One Response dated April 9, 2010 submitted by Susan

       Taylor of Haltom Middle School

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

It is my request that you accept this letter as a notice of appeal to your response to our level one hearing.  FNG (Local) states an “appeal notice must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the District, within ten days of the date of the written Level One response…”  Neither Susan Taylor, nor the district, have provided such a form.  Should this letter be unacceptable to the FNG (Local) standard, please advise; provide the form and extend the timeframe allotted for my appeal.

 

Your Plan of Action will be a great start toward preventing bullying.  However, it only addresses my grievance indirectly.  My grievance very clearly complains of Haltom Middle School staff and administration’s lack of meaningful and progressive action in response to numerous prior complaints against the assailant and the administration’s absence of notification, in this single incident, to me as the parent of the victim.

 

Also, to date, both Rick Kempe’s and Susan Taylor’s correspondence deny any wrong doing surrounding this incident.  I do not see how it can be possible that action(s) can be corrected if Haltom Middle School’s and BISD’s stance on the issue remains to be so.

 

I request, also, for two additional items to be considered in the Level Two hearing; 1.) Haltom Middle School’s statement to the Haltom City Police Department SRO and 2.) Consideration of violation(s) of how schools and staff should respond to allegations of sexual harassment, as set forth by the U.S. Department of Education OCR. 

 

A copy of the Haltom City Police Department’s Incident report shall accompany this appeal.  Please involve Dr. Jay Thompson, the BISD Title IX Coordinator, to verify the conduct of staff and administration that should have taken place in response to Joseph’s complaint that was made to Coach Matthew Donnell on March 4, 2010.

 

On March 10, 2010, it is documented (on the police report) that Mr. Bailey had stated to Officer Brandi Perkins “the incident did not take place.”  In addition to denying the incident occurred, also on record, the credibility of Joseph Jackson was attacked.  Mr. Bailey’s allegations of Joseph Jackson’s lack of credibility have no precedence.  Contrarily, it has also been documented (p. 45 Transcript of Level I Complaint hearing) that Mr. Bailey has “worked quite a lot with” Christian Castillo “over the last two years” to “try and help him keep his behavior in check and do better,” and (p. 2 Haltom City Police Department Incident Report) Mr. Bailey conveyed that Christian Castillo “does this because he thinks it’s funny.”

 

It is clear, from the police report, this was an open and shut incident.  According to the report, it was determined on March 10 that the incident did not occur.  Oddly, on March 22, 2010, (upon return from spring break and extra attention had been brought to the matter) BISD and Haltom Middle School were found to be working fervently on the case and had reported action had been taken in the incident since March 10, 2010. It is my request that these facts are considered as support to my allegations initially documented in my grievance.

 

The U.S. Department of Education OCR states

 

the school must conduct a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation to determine what happened and must take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.” 

“It may be necessary for schools to take interim measures during the investigation of a complaint. For instance, if a student alleges harassment by another student, the school may keep those students separated until the investigation is complete.

It is a good practice for schools to keep the student who alleged the harassment informed of the status of the investigation.”

“The school must notify the victim (and his or her parents depending on the age of the victim) of the outcome of its investigation and of any punishments imposed that directly relate to the victim, such as an order for the harasser to stay away from the victim.”

“Responsive measures should be designed to minimize the burden on the victim as much as possible. If the school’s initial response does not stop the harassment and prevent it from happening again, the school may need to take additional, stronger measures.”

These only name a few of the actions set forth by the U.S. Department of Education,  others include notification (from the school) to the parents of the incident and the staff member (to whom the incident is reported) to inform the victim of what his rights are in the situation and how the investigation will be handled.  None of these have taken place.

In my grievance, when asked to state “specific relief or resolution,” I had initially stated my desire for “Investigation and disciplinary action compliant with BISD’s documented policy.”  Since then, it has become clear that there is no policy in place which addresses this sort of issue.  With the absence of policy to direct disciplinary or administrative action for district/school staff’s negligence in attending to issues concerning assault of a student, following will be an amended statement what relief and resolution I am requesting.

I request:

1.) the hearing committee examine what is commonly considered to be “good practice,” and / or common sense reaction to allegations of sexual harassment and physical assault (i.e. notification to parent of victim; immediate separation of alleged student from victim while investigation is conducted; prompt and effective investigation followed by prompt consequences if the allegations are validated)

2.) consideration of the district to implement specific procedure for these situations, rather than the existing approach- left to the individual discretion of the staff which receives the complaint.

3.) place direct responsibility on school staff and administrators to provide our children with the safe learning environment you claim to have by implementing disciplinary action toward staff who do not comply with the requested before-mentioned procedures.

4.) specifically, in this case, I request consequences (as the district sees fit) for Susan Taylor, Rod Bailey and Matthew Donnell for their failure to exercise methods of good [and common] practice of separating students involved in the complaint and notifying the victim’s parent of the incident, as well as their failure to take prior complaints (pertaining specifically to the assailant’s physical aggression toward my son) seriously. 

Thank you, in advance, for your consideration of my appeal.

 

Regards,

 

 

 

Christine Jackson

 

CC: Susan Taylor