Linden students question efforts of bullying hotline
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
LINDEN, MI (WNEM) -
A local school district is taking another look at their bullying policy.
Linden Community Schools set up a bullying hotline following the tragic suicide of one of their students, but some students in the school say the hotline isn't doing its job.
"Our child is not coming back. We've come to that realization," said an emotional Mike Capehart as he sat next to his wife Lynnette.
The Capeharts live a parent's worst nightmare every day. Their son Josh Pacheco committed suicide less than three months ago. The Capeharts blame his death on bullying.
"We kind of feel it's up to us to do everything we can so other people don't have to go through it," said Mike Capehart.
They've pushed for Linden to crack down on bullying since his death. The district has implemented a bullying hotline to give students a chance to report bullying happening in the school.
"That policy went into effect the week after our son passed away, and we haven't heard one good thing," said Lynette Capehart.
At the school board meeting Wednesday night, a student raised concerns about problems with the hotline.
"It's not working. They're not hearing us," Michael Emington said.
Emington, a sophomore at Linden, said he watched his best friend Alec get bullied by a group of older students.
"They reached into the car, and they said, 'He's scared,' and they felt his heart. And they pulled down the mirror and told him to look at himself. It was like nothing I've ever seen. It was like out of a movie," said Emington.
Emington said Alec text-messaged the hotline number to report the incident but never heard back.
According to the Linden Student Handbook, the district has a policy for bullying. The minimum penalty is a three-day suspension, and the maximum penalty is expulsion.
"They shouldn't even have a policy in place. They shouldn't have even written the words on bullying," said Kimberly Ball, Alec's mother.
Ball said she's disgusted the district hasn't disciplined anybody involved. She also wonders what good the hotline is if the concerns go unanswered.
"Nothing's being done. It's frustrating. It's very frustrating," Ball said.
Ball has kept her son, Alec, out of Linden High School since last Wednesday because she said she's concerned about his safety.
We attempted to contact school officials after hours Thursday night, and we did not get a response. Stay with WNEM TV5 as we continue to follow this story.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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