Racist, Sexual Remarks in School Not Addressed, Parent Says
Man said there was a lack of response from administrators after step-daughter was allegedly bullied.
Racist and sexually-oriented remarks allegedly made toward a Jefferson Township High School student prompted the girl's step-father to approach the Board of Education demanding action last week.
Tom Staron told the Board of Education on Jan. 21 that several students made inappropriate comments to his step-daughter—including calling her a racially deragatory name and making sexually lewd comments—dating back to October.
“I’m a firm believer that there are three sides to every story,” he said. “Both sides and the truth.”
But the man's concern was not only with the comments allegedly made to his step-daughter, but in the reaction, or lack thereof, in his opinion, on the part of the school district.
“According to the bullying law, that falls under a harassment, and an investigation should have been started,” he said. “That wasn’t done.”
Staron said his dismay with the high school’s handling of bullying cases dates back two years. He said his step-daughter—a freshman at the time—had been bullied by a senior and fellow freshman.
The man said he had visited the school and spoke with a former vice principal who later called and said the situation was “taken care of.” However, Staron said the bullying picked up again a few weeks later.
District administrators, particularly at the high school, have been criticized by other families for not taking appropriate action after instances of alleged bullying.
Last year, parents of a freshman approached the board and said their son had been "brutally attacked" by another student. They said their son suffered a concussion and possible permanent damage to his left eye and that their son was not given medical attention after the incident.
The parents, Michael and Elaine Attanasio, filed a lawsuit against the Jefferson Township Board of Education, high school principal Karl Mundi, assistant principal Vickki Nadler, interim assistant principal Noreen Risko, student assistance counselor Joanne Martino, case manager Dr. Philip Guarraia, nurse Jane Hoffman and several teachers. The lawsuit claimed the school district and administrators had violated Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying laws and were negligent in hiring and supervising personnel.
Staron said one of his main concerns was that he and his wife did not receive replies to many of their messages to staff and administrators, including a letter to former Superintendent Kathleen Fuchs.
“If you want to have and enforce a policy, you have to respond to things before they get any worse,” Staron said.
The retired police detective told Superintendent Joseph Kraemer he would like to meet face-to-face to discuss the problem.
Kraemer said this was the first time he had heard about this situation and that he would like to make an appointment with Staron and his wife.
“These are things I’d like to discuss in private, not public,” Kraemer said.
Staron said he just wanted to get some answers and understood “they’re all teenagers” and that his step-daughter can also be disruptive at times.