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Parents say two pupils were subjected to bullying that led to hospital care

Parents of two Sweet Home Middle School pupils demanded Tuesday that the district put an end to the sort of bullying that recently sent their sons to the hospital.

The parents told School Board members that their sons had been assaulted in recent weeks.

"There is too much bullying, almost like terrorizing, at the middle school," said one woman, who was joined by her husband.

She said her son has been targeted by a group of children over the course of the school year and most recently needed stitches after another pupil slammed his head into his locker. The boy also has been choked and jabbed with pencils on several occasions by the same classmate and others, he added.

The boy's father said the attacker has served two five-day suspensions for assaulting his son.

Another mother said her son suffered a broken nose when hit following an intramural volleyball game. The boy had to undergo surgery to repair the fracture, she added.

"Something has to be done to protect the children who are innocent. They haven't done anything," the mother said.

Superintendent Geoffrey Hicks, a former principal at Sweet Home Middle School, said he was unable to discuss the specifics of either incident in public, citing confidentiality rules, but asked both parents to join him in a private hearing to discuss the incidents and the disciplinary process. He also said he would further investigate the complaints personally.

"I'd like you both to meet with me, and we can talk about our rules and regulations," Hicks said. "Give me an opportunity to check [the incidents] out."

"We want to address your concerns," Hicks said. "We're not going to sweep anything under the carpet. We're not going to try to hide anything."

Board member Carol Nowak acknowledged the residents' concerns during a comment session at the end of the board meeting.

"I'm hearing more and more stories, and I know some of them are hearsay, but I'm hearing from parents and I'm hearing from kids that they're concerned about their safety in school," Nowak said.

Nowak suggested the district examine bullying incidents as part of the overall district wellness plan.

The parents of both boys said they doubt district officials realize the seriousness of the problem.

"It's a much bigger problem than the board wants to admit," said one of the mothers.

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