tampabay.com

Two mothers stand up against bullies

By EDDY RAMIREZ
Published February 21, 2007


INVERNESS - Two mothers staged a protest Tuesday outside the school district offices in Inverness to demand that schools get tougher on bullies.

Tracy Seavers and Christina English said their children were attacked by bullies in separate incidents in September. But the schools, they said, did little or nothing to crack down on the bullying and discipline those responsible.

Tuesday's protest was supposed to draw other parents, but the women said they didn't show up because they were afraid for their children's safety.

Instead, Seavers and English made large protest signs and brought them to corner of Main Street and Montgomery Avenue.

"There is no difference between a terrorist and a bully," Seavers' sign said.

Her son, Taylor Scheide, 16, who said he was beaten up at Crystal River High School, also held a sign that read: "Depression, stress, anxiety, violence, suicide. All caused from bullying." The sign had a photograph of his bruised left eye.

Superintendent Sandra "Sam" Himmel said schools do everything they can to crack down on bullying.

Besides working closely with the Sheriff's Office and having school resource officers at nearly every school, they have guidance counselors and other staff members who are trained to put a stop to bullying.

The student code of conduct also forbids students from harassing other students.

Himmel said she plans to send 17 other staff members to a conference on bullying in April.

"We take bullying very seriously," she said. "And every incident is investigated. ... Our schools are very proactive against bullying."

But Seavers and English say the bullying had gotten so out of control that they had to pull their children out of school.

"They say zero-tolerance but they're not enforcing it," Seavers said.

"Then they sit there and wonder why Columbine happened. I'm not going to let my son fight a battle that he feels he needs to take into his own hands."

The two mothers are encouraging other families to show up at a School Board meeting on Feb. 27.

They have posted fliers around the county and asked parents to sign a petition calling on the school district to take a tougher stance against bullying.

Eddy Ramirez can be reached at eramirez@sptimes.com or 860-7305.