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Protecting Bullies, Not the Bullied, Seems to be the Rule in Our Schools

by Wrightslaw

In Mass, parents are reporting that their children are refusing to go to class, have dropped out of sports, stopped trying to socialize, refused to go to class and in some cases had to change schools – all because they are being bullied.

Allegedly girls with special needs are being photographed in the bathroom, then pictures posted on FB. Parents report kids are being attacked on the bus or beaten up at elementary school.

Even worse, some bullied children have attempted or threatened suicide. On Jan. 14, Phoebe Prince died of an apparent suicide after incessant bullying by classmates.

Who is investigating? It appears that the school system is investigating itself and… they “apologize for the delay.”

The school says, “There have been in our investigation some kids on their family’s – or family’s lawyer’s – recommendation that have not spoken to us,” Edward Boisselle, chairman of the South Hadley School Committee, told the Herald yesterday … But a determined Boisselle vowed that lawyers won’t keep school officials from completing their investigation by week’s end and meting out ‘severe’ punishment… I apologize for what appears to be delays, sweeping this under the rug. It’s a process. It’s not an easy investigation.”

“Separately, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel is leading a criminal investigation into Prince’s death. Charges have not been brought.”

Last we heard, school officials aren’t law enforcement agents, nor are they trained investigators. Are chairmen of school districts and committees trained investigators?

The school did not protect this girl. The school is on notice about many other kids who are being bullied, yet they did nothing until news of the girl’s suicide broke.

“The state  Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester is “calling on every school to ‘be clear’ about the ‘conduct and consequences’ of  bullying …  “We encourage schools to take this on.”

“To be clear about the conduct and consequences of bullying?” Consequences? There are no consequences when schools don’t protect kids.

“We ENCOURAGE schools to take this on?” If they feel like it? The state Education Commissioner doesn’t ORDER them to change their ways?

Sickening. We hate to think what Phoebe Prince’s parents are going through now, and for the rest of their lives. We don’t have a sense that the Education commission, Chairman, or other administrators understand or care what this does to defenseless kids.

As of September 2009, HRSA reports that Massachusetts is one of ten states that has no laws on bullying.  Check to see if your state has laws on bullying here.

From Bullied Kids Helpless Against Attacks from the Boston Herald at

Many parents also report that when they informed the school their children were being bullied, the school did nothing. “One struggling mother turned in her own son, a bully, hoping the school would do something. It didn’t.”  Read Parents’ Pleas Fall on Deaf Ears from the Boston Herald at

Teen Suicide Prompts Look at Bullying from the Boston Globe at

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45 Comments on "Protecting Bullies, Not the Bullied, Seems to be the Rule in Our Schools"

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08/03/2015 11:55 am

We learn that when a teacher bullies your child and you go to the school to talk to the principal to help your child, they will call child protective services on *you*. This is what happen to my son when his wife went to the school to talk to the principal about their daughter being bullied by a teacher. That same evening a social worker showed up at their home. The social worker spoke to the child alone and said “we can,t say who, but someone at the school called”. Nothing was done to about the was not investigated… Read more »

01/11/2015 8:55 pm

I have done all the proactive things regarding my daughter getting bullied yet it has gotten worse. My daughter is 7th grade regular education and was recently assaulted. The local police will not press charges and it is the 2nd police report. We need help

10/18/2014 9:14 pm

Jamie, you’re absolutely right. Status Quo is NOT working! Parents must demand the schools comply with the laws. Go to the school board meetings and let the elected officials know what’s going on and how you feel about it. Parents have power to make change!

10/18/2014 8:42 pm

If the Bully has an IEP, they have protection to continue bullying, and the school has more excuses!

05/05/2015 6:55 pm

Most bullies don’t have IEP’s. In fact many children in IEP’s are the victims – not the bullies.

11/05/2013 10:03 am

We experienced a teacher who bullied my son horribly in 4th grade. This teacher would use class time to ask the other students if my son (who is dyslexic and has memory issues) was “behaving” in another teachers room. If the teacher’s “pet” reported anything then the teacher was punishing my son for behavior in another class. This is so mind boggling that a teacher could punish my son for behavior while he was in the care of another certified teacher’s care. My son took months to report this to me because of her intimidation. … Read more »

09/02/2015 12:09 pm

I have had two children, 6 years apart go through this with the same teacher in my town(Tyngsboro, MA). we did a formal complaint and I was told there would be an “investigation” nothing was done and I had to call too go in to ask months later about the findings to be told it was found his actions were “not abusive” and told there were other parts which they were not able to tell me by law?! This guy has been doing this for years and I know of a few other parents who have put in complaints on… Read more »

10/25/2011 8:04 pm

When I, a concerned parent, tried to get an anti-bullying program into my son’s middle school, I was ignored.
There were many federally approved anti-bullying programs available for a reasonable price, especially after school shootings were in the news and public awareness of bullying began to include concern for everyone (even teachers and administrators,) not “just” the victims of bullying.
In addition, there was a veritable army of parents who were willing to help, or even make our own anti-bullying campaign, for free. Parents who had been involved the year before were told that “the kids don’t want you at school… Read more »

10/25/2011 7:46 pm

My son (grown up now & done with public schools) was bullied in middle school (~2000-2001) by some girls a year older. Time and again, we would tell our son that “boys should never hit a girl,” and to tell someone in charge. He did, but the school did nothing. When he kept coming home with fingernail scrapes and bruises, we finally told him to hit whoever he felt he needed to. If he was punished at school, we would support him, maybe take him out to dinner.
Well, his demeanor changed – he had determined to defend himself. Maybe… Read more »

09/12/2011 12:06 pm

My two children were bullied and assaulted for yrs by both other students and school officials, denied services and rights. After yrs my son got his transportation back, but the damage had been done by the school. Now my daughter that is 17 has been verbally and physically assaulted under retaliation of a sexual assault to her three yrs ago. Since then family and friends of the perp have tormented her and she has tried to stand tough on all of it but it has taken it’s toll on her and changed her. We requested a transfer to another… Read more »

01/24/2011 5:21 pm

My now 15 year old daughter is doing virtual school without much choice, because she was bullied and harassed so much she lost interest in school, her academics, and plainly she tried everything to avoid going to specific classes all together. She has very low self esteem, and isolation is something she has turned to. She is trying to complete her 9th grade courses on line, but it is also very isolating, and she is always frustrated and sad. I look at her, and my heart breaks, knowing that a beautiful 15 year old girl should… Read more »

01/22/2011 10:51 pm

Bullying is not only done by students… is also done by teachers…..emotional-psychological abuse…harassment, belittling, put downs, negative labeling, isolation in a box, denigration, mocking,blaming, humiliations in front of their peers….often the child will not tell you right away (7 years old) thinking they are “bad”, it’s their fault. I had witnesses come to me. I needed a private attorney, but couldn’t afford. Principals are “Mandated,” to investigate,report. They will protect a tenured teacher. Attorneys told me “The wagons circle, the ranks close, and the goal is to blame the child victim and find a way to blame the… Read more »

Sharon L.
11/21/2010 8:04 pm

Heather, This has nothing to do with disabilities but instead should be brought to the superintendent’s attention. I would put a police report together for the assault and get a copy of the injuries from the doctor, hospital. You need to insist that the school protect your son from harassment and it is their job to protect all students. Your son could have died and no one helped him. You need to document that also.

11/20/2010 10:28 pm

My son came home with a head injury on Friday due to some bullies. There was 6 on my 1 son. I have been to the school on my 13 years olds behalf the day before. He tried telling a coach what happended and was ignored. he went to his last class and was real sick and had a bad headache and still no one had him looked at. He got of the bus barely able to walk and was sick as a dog. Told me what had happened and I rushed him to the hospital. He had a head… Read more »

10/02/2010 9:45 pm

I know first hand what bullying can do to a young girl. I had to change my daughter’s school in the 6th grade do to bullying. It would talk forever to go through all the negative effects it’s had on her. To this day, now in 10th, it still effects her. The reason I’m on here is because my daughter is now facing an explusion hearing and has to go before a judge because she was approached yet again by someone who is a known bully with drug problems on her 2nd back on probation and… Read more »

08/13/2010 2:09 pm

Joanne at least your trying thats what counts. I would like to see more parents whose children are doing the bullying go through some kind of mandatory class

08/13/2010 2:00 pm

You are very right I have spent the last three years of Middle school with my son being constantly assaulted. I had a 504 plan and the Vice Principal even wrote it up for us 2 years ago and in it if my son ask to go to the bathroom he was to be let go.
The Vice Principal refused him twice then instead of letting him go to the closest bathroom he made him go to the other end of school. After filing an OCR complaint and someone assaulted my son they got 4HOURS of ISS….(in school suspension) instead of… Read more »

05/14/2010 5:03 am

I am long-term sub in a pullout class in Wisconsin in which an EBD student bullies a CD student: verbal harrassment and threatening.

What does manifestation determination say about discipline when its one special ed child against another????

05/03/2010 3:36 am

Early 18 year old niece HS Student after being bullied and provoked by almost 16 year old got into a physical altercation.
Both were suspended for fighting. bully’s mother took her student to another medical facility which apparently reported nose broken in three places and has now signed warrant for Highly aggravated assault and battery with intent to do bodily harm.
18 year old defendant never been in a fight. 15 year old x3 and suspended from two different schools and returned to current school from alternate school. Case is hard to fight as she is covered by minor… Read more »

Sharon L.
04/23/2010 9:11 am

I do not believe that our schools are set up to “normalize” our kids disabilities. If children are taught to understand the disabilities it hey would grow up being more accepting as adults. This problem would resolve itself. Instead the schools never talk about the disabilities making it appear “not normal”. All my children are learning disabled and have not had that many friends. It is hard to keep their self esteem up. The good news is that all my sons are grown up and have friends now.

Sharon L.
04/23/2010 9:08 am

Suzette, This is not a special ed issue but a school harassment issue. The schools by law must protect their students from harassment or they can be sued. My son was being picked on by kids on the bus. He told us about it and we contacted the principal who told us she would handle it. A few days went by and our son told us the students started picking on him again (my son has dyslexia, LD and slight autism). We again contacted the principal and she again told us she would handle… Read more »

04/22/2010 12:10 pm

My daughter attends a junior high in a very tight knit community. Most of the people from there are either related or friends since they were little. My daughter has severe ADHD, Mild Tourettes,and an LD. Since Kinder she has been labeled as weird and made to feel different and ostracized. She had a few friends but seems like it’s been dwindling now that she’s in Jr. High. She was put on a hit list in 4th grade and called a “B” in summer school where the girls made a point of leaving a space between her. Today I noticed… Read more »

04/03/2010 10:11 pm

My son has anxiety and depression. He decided he wanted to buy some marijuana from school to help him with his anxiety. They school found out and suspended him. So after the teachers started making nasty comments “Hey are you high or stoned. Are you half baked. Any brains cells left.” Yes, the school is defending the teachers. So I made a civil rights compliant . Does anything really happen? I do not repeat !`do not by all means think it is ok to do drugs. Two wrongs do not make it right. I have a kid with social… Read more »

03/15/2010 8:29 pm


Your child is entitled to a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

The ongoing battle between parents and schools is the Appropriate part. The school will likely take that stand that they have a program that your child is welcomed to attend. Only you can decide how many last chances they get with your child.

If you are considering homeschooling, we had great success using Florida Virtual School for the academics. Peer interaction is a vital part of learning. We found alternate activities in our Church and community.

Good Luck

03/10/2010 10:01 pm

My grandaughter has been bullied for two yrs. She is a freshman. It got so bad this yr. We pulled her out of school 2 wks ago. We do not have have another school in this co. I tried 4 different counties and they would not take her. So I have to home school her. Yes, we did report it. Isnt it a law to provide her an education?

Mom in Virginia
03/10/2010 9:13 am

I am a mother who currently has a child in therapy as a result of suicidal ideation at school. At intake, my son was distraught over repeated bullying . Eight days after I was called to the school to immediately remove him to medical care, NO ONE has emailed or picked up the phone to address the issue with me ( I reported the pediatrician’s findings to the school).

I encourage all to contract CPS, as I did. In the abscence of school administration keeping our children safe, your state will address the manner for you and protect your child.

03/09/2010 3:46 pm

My daughter was constantly bullied at school till she stopped going to school and that class. The teacher saw her and made her come in class her last day. A girl started in on her, hit her and it went down hill for my daughter ever since. The bully was a pregnant 17 yr old, my daughter was a 18yr old. My daughter was very scared of her and had never been in trouble before in her life. She had been humble and meek even at home. My daughter attempted suicide after that.

03/08/2010 2:42 pm

Oregon is no exception to the school failure to address bullying in a strict manner. My daughter, a 4th grader, is a victim. Name calling, food thrown at her during lunch, getting beat up on the playground, and rumors. One girl told her if she told on them again she would come into her house and kill her mother. The girl had to apologize to my daughter and she received one day in school suspension. Seriously? What about suspension? What about notifying her parents? What about getting this girl a psychological evaluation?… Read more »

02/18/2010 3:01 pm

I respect the work that wrightslaw does.

The fact is that even though there are more anti-bullying laws and programs than ever before the problem continues (and seems to be getting worse).

Trying to get action from school officials is as productive as trying to push string. And most lawyers wont even take a case unless there’s a kid who’s sustained a devastating injury.

In my professional career, I’ve bully-proofed literally hundreds of children. You can pick up some valuable strategies for dealing with bullies on my blog.

I hope this helps.

09/02/2015 12:13 pm

The reason it has not improved and has gotten worse is, it is all being addressed completely wrong, just as are all issues. Another source of the issues are at home, I have met with parents of bullies to find out the parents are bullies as well.

02/15/2010 4:51 pm

Yet another case of protective services being used by a school to retaliate.

02/14/2010 11:39 am

I have successfully used a template I found on Wrightslaw for IEP goals to protect a child who was being bullied. It started with a goal that the student would learn that bullying is a violation, then goals that there are steps to take to stop the bullying, then to identify the person to whom harassment issues should be reported, then how to write/tell the official the situation and finally to follow up with determining what the school will do to stop the bullying and to prevent it from happening. I didn’t find it in a quick look… Read more »

02/13/2010 2:46 pm

I am amazed at the efforts that a school district will go through to ignore an issue of bullying.

We had several meetings with the Principal to specifically discuss issues of my child being bullied. The school district does not keep records or minutes for meetings that are held in the Principal’s office.

The district hired a third party “Board Certified Autism Specialist” to administer an FBA for my child.

The third party observer documented that “it seems that name doesn’t like being teased by peers for involuntary facial tics. To PREVENT being teased, name would frequently pick fights with peers”. I guess… Read more »

02/12/2010 2:26 am

It is important for the parents to have occasional observation in the classroom. Sometimes, it is the school staff that is bullying the little kids especially in the developmental delay classroom.

It may take years before discovering what is happening in the classroom unless you make observation. Kids who are in special education are not able to speak for themselves.

I have a son who was in special education, hated going to DD classroom and I kept asking and saying to staff there is something wrong but I can’t pinpoint. One day, I went to pick up my child on… Read more »

02/10/2010 2:17 am

How do you defend yourself against CPS when your child has been repeatedly physically bullied and CPS believes the school rather than the child?

The school will ask people who are named as bystanders and they either won’t admit to seeing the abuse because they are friends of the bully or out of fear, so the school insists it can’t be happening.

My son threatened suicide and his psychologist told us not to send him to school until she felt he was ready but CPS has labeled us as child abusers for educational neglect without benefit of trial or attorney. Neither my… Read more »

02/09/2010 7:34 pm

It is the case that sometimes school staff investigate bullying promptly and take action to protect our kids but the more common situation is a situation wherein staff are primarily looking to protect the district and themselves.

Filing assault and cyberbullying reports with local law enforcement, submitting formal civil rights complaints with state agencies, and filing lawsuits against the bullies who prevent our students from obtaining an education are all effective tools to gain the attention of school personnel, other students, and the parents of bullys.

All time-consuming activities that won’t necessarily win you friends but you may find, as I did,… Read more »

02/09/2010 4:18 pm

It is not so much the school. It is us parents that are failing in instilling moral values in our children. The school can do but so much. We as parents need to take the initiative and be parents and don’t expect the teachers and schools official to discipline and educate our children because they only can do but so much. Parents let’s be proactive.

02/09/2010 1:26 pm

So here is someone from the other side… Please don’t attack me. My son has been the bully – not to the extreme of some of this but he has… I have been working with him since first grade. Our school has been involved, I have gone to counseling and endless ways to get help. I recently printed off a bunch of results of kids that did commit suicide and had him read what these kids felt like and what can happen..He does have a great heart and allot of awesome qualities – he is not… Read more »

02/09/2010 12:15 pm

It happens in CA. Son was bullied and the principal says that the bullies are 504 kids, it was just play that got out of hand. But son says that no adults were supervising so no one really knows what happened. “Deliberate indifference” is the attitude here. I fail to understand why recess should be “The Lord of the Flies” but that seems to be the case here.

02/09/2010 11:41 am

I see the same thing on the Greenline with class trips. For some inexplicable reason, the teachers chastise the victim, which only emboldens the bully and makes the problem worse. Years ago, my son (now grown) was bullied, including being surrounded and spit on. The school told me that it was better that my son be the victim than someone else less able to tolerate it. When threats of violence were made, the principal assured me should would see that my son was escorted safely to his bus the next day. She didn’t. I told my son he no longer… Read more »

02/09/2010 9:03 am

When my daughter was bullied, she too was blamed for encouraging it. The school will ‘handle it’, but they don’t let the parents know what has happened. When I was growing up, you behaved at school because anything the school did to discipline you would pale in comparison to what happened ‘when your father got home’.

Schools and parents need to work together when it comes to disciplining bad behaviors. Consequences should hurt (not physically). Adults obey traffic laws because they don’t want to suffer the consequences. We need to come up with consequences that do… Read more »

02/08/2010 11:58 pm

It is definitely happening here in Virginia. Many principals turn a blind eye to bullying, even blaming the victim for provoking the bullying or telling parents that we need to cut the bullies some slack, since they come from a dysfunctional home life. All sorts of excuses are made, and the bully is given permission to continue. No negative consequences except for the victim. I have been wondering if this is planned chaos in our schools. I know of several situations in which parents who tried to get the principal to intervene to stop bullying against their child (some were… Read more »

02/08/2010 11:22 pm

We feel like the school is bullying us-if they send you a notice of action that they are rejecting a option for the IEP–that the team decided–are the parents not a part of the team? We never got a copy of the plan they voted on or a invite to the meeting–what gives here?