BATAVIA – Administrators of Batavia Middle School are not doing enough to safeguard their students from bullying and harassment, according to a parent who spoke at the Batavia Board of Education’s reorganizational meeting Thursday night.
Michael Harmon told the board that he was frustrated by the lack of protection for fifth-graders who were “repeatedly harassed and bullied” during the last half of the school year. He said he spoke to school officials on separate occasions, but was not pleased with the outcome of those meetings.
The behavior by a couple boys included sexual harassment and threats of rape, and affected “multiple families,” Harmon said.
“It’s a problem. I’ve gone to school administration and now I’m speaking to you guys,” he told the board.
Harmon noted that he received a letter from Superintendent Christopher J. Dailey informing him that the issue would be “dealt with.” One student was suspended, he said, but the harassment continued.
Dailey and board President Patrick D. Burk both said that they will look into the matter further and get back to Harmon.
“We will work with the families and go over their concerns,” Dailey said.
Afterward, Harmon said he is aware of school district policies against bullying but feels let down by the lack of proper enforcement.
“It comes down to the fact that there are problems with the system; it’s a cultural thing,” he said. “I think the people in charge need to be gone. I don’t know if they’re capable of doing what has to be done.”
In other developments, Shawna Murphy, an adjunct English instructor at Genesee Community College, was sworn in as a new board member, and Burk was elected president for another one-year term. Burk has served on the board for more than 20 years.
Murphy said she believes that teachers should be given the power to make sure students are prepared for college when they graduate.
“Academically and attitude-wise, some things need to change,” she said. “Teachers need latitude when dealing with students. They have master’s degrees and shouldn’t be micromanaged.”
Murphy said many college students aren’t ready because they haven’t been challenged enough in high school.
“It’s a wake-up call for these students, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” she said.
She and her husband, Chris Weicher, a science teacher at Batavia High School, have a child in the second grade.