PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012) — Schools, bullying, an unresponsive school department, and a determined mom: How’s that for today’s menu and that of the weekend, in which the Orange advance to the Elite Eight.


The Pittsfield City Schools have the words but not the actions. The school administration, using the superintendent as the scapegoat since he fronts the entire mess, is hypocritical in the extreme — lying hypocrites, to boot.

Consider this story, which THE PLANET has obtained from an aggrieved mother, Sharon Hazlewood. That’s not her real name, which be changed at her request to spare her son, a lad we shall call Hank. Hank Hazlewood is now an upperclassman at Taconic High School. For the past two years, he has been the subject of bullying there.

The mother received no help from the schools, and ultimately, as you will now read, had to find help — on her own — for Hank. She did that, thank God, and Hank, we are pleased to say, will be graduating with his classmates at THS.

This is story that is at once disturbing and uplifting.

This is a story that should outrage every taxpayer who bleeds through the pores to fund the three-ring circus that is the Pittsfield School Department.

Here is the Saga of Hank Hazlewood.



Special to THE PLANET

This is the story about Hank’s bullying experience.   I know there is alot he won’t share with me for fear of what happened before will happen again.  You’ll know what I mean in a minute.
When Hank started middle school, I noticed a change in him after a few months.  He went from being a happy, sunny, funny kid who wasnt afraid to express himself to someone reclusive and depressed.  Dark, if you will.  Turned out, he was being “picked on” by his peers.
Hank had a great sense of humor, to the point of sometimes not knowing when to stop.  I knew this about him.  So in order to get him to shut up, he’d get hit or punched, whatever.  It started a reputation: Hank became known as someone who you could kick the s— out of and not get retaliation, because he didnt fight back.
The next year, in 7th grade, he started to talk about the bullying, because he was sick of it.  It turned out, two of his “buddies” (pot smoking punks who tried to get him to use drugs, but he refused) were his bullies.  A few months went by and I contacted the vice principal at Taconic. We met and talked about the bullying, who the kids were, what to do, etc.  We decided that the VP would alert Hank’s teachers to be aware, and to let the school police officer (the lady cop) know what was going on, so she could keep an eye out.
We decided not to talk to the kids yet, and see what would happen. Hank was mortified, but I told him that a teacher witnessed him getting punched and kicked and pushed down outside in the mud.  Because the lady cop had no idea what she was doing, behind everyone’s backs, she took Hank aside during gym class (where the bullies were as well at the time).  She told him what she knew and asked if he wanted her to say something to the, and he begged her not to.  So, instead of doing what he wanted, she brought him back to class, pointed to the bullies, and said, “Come with me.”  Hank was scared to death.  She interrogated both of them, they denied it all, and she sent them back to class.  So there was Hank and his bullies, and what do you think happened?  They gave taunted him and beat him up. After that, Hank stopped talking to us.
Two years later, he started talking again.  This time the bully was a psychotic kid who was a year older than him.  He had been bullying Hank for a couple of years, we found out.  This kid stabbed Hank with a knife at least twice that I know about.  Hank never told us (at the time).  He was also stabbed on the hand with a pencil (has a scar) and stabbed elsewhere repeatedly with pens, pencils, etc., punched in the stomach, kicked, pushed. First it was only by the psycho but then others joined in the “fun.”
His classmates asked why he didnt fight back, and Hank told them he was a “pacifist” (actually, it was out of fear).  He just wanted it to go away, to stop.  This psycho kid was in several of Hank’s classes and  would follow him all over the place.  Hank couldnt get rid of him.  Teachers witnessed the abouse, including the wrestling coach, who told the bully (who had Hank in a choke hold after elbowing him on his shoulder ) “Nice move”!
It became too much.  Hank started talking suicide.  He started to get sick, missing tons opf school.  Eventually he started talking to us. He told his parents he was scared, but then he would poo-poo the situation, saying he could handle it.  I asked him many times if he wanted us to intervene, and he said no, that he would never talk to us again if I did.
Nonetheless, concerned now for the life of my child, I called the school.  I spoke with the principal, vice principal, guidance counselor, and another person in charge of peer issues.  We talked about options.  They said to call the school police officer, and I did.
I spent hours and hours and wrote letter after letter.  His teachers were notified, but all of a sudden, no one “saw anything.” Worse, more than one teacher  started to bully him as well.  We started looking into taking Hank out of THS and arranging so he could get his GED.  We even met with a GED counselor, to get the process sgtarted.  I wanted my child alive, thank you.  He was in a deep depression, isolating completely, and suicidal.  He no longer trusted his peers and still doesn’t now.  He has no friends outside of school.
Then, God sent a ray of hope.
We found out about a program called the Positive Options Program (POP), for kids who wanted to graduate but were at risk of not graduating for various reasons, such as being overwhelmed in a large school setting, bullying, etc.
We found out about POP through a friend, not the school.  No one at Taconic, no one in the school superintendent’s office, no one in guidance — not one person among a full office of administrators, bureaucrats, and teachers, all of whom knew we were looking for help — offered the POP program to us as an option.
To this day, we are completely confused as to why.  We never got an answer from anyone in the schools.
We told the Taconic administration that we were taking Hank out of school to get his GED.  And we DID.  We didnt let him go back.
POP is offered to through the two Pittsfield high schools. The program is located at BCC , and Hank is earning college credits. He attends classes daily, and once a month, he has to go to a forum (and do a report on the forum).  POP is a self-paced program. There is one teacher and an assistant for about 15 students. It may have saved my son’s life.
Hank  will be considered a graduate of Taconic. He will be in the yearbook. He will graduate with his class and can participate in all highs school events, though he chooses not to. He has no faith in the school,  his peers, the teachers, and those in charge.  They found no justice for him.  When he was getting beaten up and abused, no one in the school department helped Hank.
Today,  he is thriving, getting high honors for the first time in his life.  He is no longer depressed, but he isolates.
I have a hard time talking about all this because I get really angry and upset.  I used to cry myself to sleep every night worried about my son, that he was going to either be seriously injured, killed, or kill himself.  I didn’t have him to let the world hurt him, but I cant be with him to protect him 24 hours a day.  He is a good young man.  Damaged, untrusting, but good.
I share this story with your readers in hope that it will let other parents know about POP, to let people know about the utter failure of the Pittsfield public schools when it comes to bullying and letting out-of-control kids ruin too many classes and classrooms, and to let the public realize what a lie the school department’s anti-bullying policy is.
Thank you to THE PLANET for making this forum available.

—– 00 —–

Thank YOU, Mrs. Hazlewood, for your honesty and courage in sharing your story. We know that our readers will be forwarding this to the appropriate school department officials. Let’s hope it’s in time before the schools can ruin any more young lives.



For the record, here’s the Pittsfield Public School District’s official anti-bullying policy:

—– 00 —–

District Anti-Bullying Policy


Pittsfield, Massachusetts



It is the intent of the Pittsfield Public Schools to provide all students with an equitable opportunity to learn.To that end, Pittsfield Public Schools has a significant interest in providing a safe, supportive, orderly and respectful school environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. Pittsfield Public Schools takes a systematic approach to bullying prevention and intervention.Anti-bullying prevention in the Pittsfield Public schools is embedded within broader school-wide approaches that promote a positive, prosocial culture for all students and staff.

Bullying is detrimental to student learning and achievement.It interferes with the mission of the schools to educate their students and disrupts the operations of the schools.Bullying negatively affects not only students who are targets but also the aggressors and those who participate and witness such behavior.

It is not the Pittsfield Public Schools’ intent to prohibit students from expressing their ideas, including ideas that may offend the sensibilities of others, or from engaging in civil debate. However, the Pittsfield Public Schools does not condone and will take action in response to conduct that creates a hostile environment and interferes with students’ opportunity to learn.


A.Bullying Prohibited

Bullying as defined in this policy is not acceptable conduct in Pittsfield Public Schools and is prohibited.Any student who engages in conduct that constitutes bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences up to and including suspension or expulsion in accordance with the student handbook.A student’s bullyingmay also be addressed through other behavioral interventions.

Bullying of any type has no place in a school setting.The Pittsfield Public Schools will endeavor to maintain learning and working environments free of bullying.

Retaliation against a person who either reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information is further prohibited.

The School Committee expects administrators and supervisors to make clear to students and staff that bullying is prohibited.This prohibition includes the following areas:

·In the school building and on school grounds

·On property immediately adjacent to school grounds

·At a bus stop, on the school bus or other school sanctioned transportation, such as another vehicle owned, leased, or used by a school district

·At a school-sponsored or school related activity, function or program whether it takes place on or off school grounds

·Through the use of technology or an electronic device that is owned, leased or used by the school district or school

·At any program or location that is not school-related, or through the use of personal technology or electronic device, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the target, infringes on the rights of the target at school, or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.


For the purpose of this policy, the following definitions will be used:

Bullying:The repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property; places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property; creates a hostile environment at school for the target, infringes on the rights of the target at school; or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.Bullying includes cyber bullying.(Definition based on M.G.L. c.71, 37O)

Cyber bullying:Bullying through the use of technology or any electronic devises such as telephones, cell phones, computers and the Internet.It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages and Internet postings.

Aggressor:A student who engages in bullying, cyber bullying or retaliation.

Target:A student against whom bullying, cyber bullying or retaliation is directed.

Hostile Environment:A situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the student’s education.

C.Application of Policy

This policy applies to bullying that takes place at school or adjacent to or on school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity or event, or while students are being transported to or from school or school-sponsored activities or events.It also applies to bullying that occurs at any location that creates a hostile environment and substantially disrupts the instructional program, operations of the school, or welfare of students

Examples of conduct that may constitute bullying include, but are not limited to:

1.Physical contact or injury to another person or his/her property.

2.Threats of harm to a student, to his/her possessions, or to other individuals, whether transmitted verbally, in writing, or through electronic or other means.

3.Blackmail, extortion, demands for protection money, or involuntary loans or donations.

4.Non-verbal threats and/or intimidations such as use of aggressive or menacing gestures.


6.Blocking access to school property or facilities.

7.Stealing or hiding books, backpacks, or other possessions.

8.Repeated or pervasive taunting, name-calling, belittling, mocking, put-downs, or demeaning humor.

9.Any form of cyber-bullying communicated through electronic means (e.g., text messaging,“blogging”, social networking, etc.) that are sent within the school day or beyond the school day and creates a disrupted or hostile school environment for one or more students.

The determination whether particular conduct constitutes bullying – requires reasonable investigation and consideration of the circumstances, which include the frequency or repeated nature of the behavior at issue, the location in which the behavior occurs, the ages and maturity of the students involved, the activity or context in which the conduct occurs, and the nature and severity of the conduct.Determinations of bullying will be made utilizing the definition of bullying and cyberbullying described above.

D.Delegation of Responsibility

The Superintendent or his/her designee will be responsible for developing and implementing the District Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan in collaboration with building principals and his/her designees.This includes procedures for the following:

·Student and parent reporting of bullying to staff and school administrators

·Staff reporting of bullying and/or peer harassment to school administrators

·Review of reports and investigation of bullying incidents

·Intervention with and/or discipline of students who engage in bullying

·Support and interventions for students who are targets or aggressors of bullying

·Delivery of social and emotional learning curriculums K-12

·Annual professional development of staff and students in identification, reporting, prevention and appropriate responses to bullying

·Periodic evaluation of bullying and/or peer harassment prevention, intervention, and training procedures and the District Prevention and Intervention Plan


Anyone, including a parent, guardian, student or school staff member, can report bullying or retaliation.Reports can be made in writing or orally.Oral reports made by or to a staff member shall be recorded in writing.Persons other than school or district staff can make reports anonymously. Anonymous reports may limit further investigation if the parties involved cannot be identified.Reports may be made anonymously, but no disciplinary action will be taken against an alleged aggressor solely on the basis of an anonymous report.

Students who have been or parents of students who have been bullied -, or who observe incidents of bullying are encouraged to report this behavior to a staff member or school administrator.

Staff must immediately report bullying and/or peer harassment to the building principal if they either witness or become aware of bullying or retaliation in another manner.Staff members responsible for reporting acts of bullying include, but are not limited, to the following:educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessionals.

Acts of reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an incident of bullying and/or peer harassment are prohibited.Any student who is determined to have falsely accused another of bullying and/or peer harassment shall be subject to disciplinary consequences in accordance with the student handbook.

F.Responding to Bullying

The District will promptly and reasonably investigate allegations of bullying.The Principal of each building or his/her designee(s) will be responsible for handling all complaints by students alleging bullying.

Any school staff, that witnesses bullying, must immediately intervene and stop the bullying.

When the school principal or his/her designee(s) receives a report of bullying/peer harassment, he or she shall promptly conduct an investigation.If there is a determination that bullying has occurred, he/she shall:

·Notify the parents or guardians of the target, and to the extent consistent with state and federal law, notify them of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation.

·Notify the parents or guardians of the aggressor(s).

·Take appropriate disciplinary action.

·Notify the local law enforcement agency if there is reason to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor.In making this determination, the administrator may consult with the School Resource Officer or other individuals deemed necessary.

During the course of an investigation, the school principal and/or his/her designee will assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents, including the possible completion of a personal safety plan.

In determining the appropriate response to students who engage in bullying – behavior, school administrators should consider the ages and maturity of the students involved, the type of behaviors, the frequency and/or pattern of behaviors, the context in which the incident occurred, and other relevant circumstances.Responses can include positive behavioral interventions, teaching appropriate behavior through skill-building,disciplinary action including suspension or expulsion in accordance with the student handbook and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), and/or reports to law enforcement officials.

Administrative guidelines and procedures for all forms of bullying will apply as outlined in the student handbook.The District will provide professional development to support the implementation of this policy, as well as implement curriculum to develop social and emotional learning for the aggressor/harasser, target, and the entire school community.

G.Dissemination of Policy

Notice of what constitutes bullying, Pittsfield Public Schools’ prohibition against bullying, and the consequences for students who bully shall be communicated to students and parents through the Student Code of Conduct and Student Handbook and will be available on the District website.Staff will receive annual training on the identification, reporting, prevention and response to bullying.


STU-3 (Equal Educational Opportunities); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

STU-34 (Hazing); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

STU-24 (Student Rights and Responsibilities); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

STU-31 (Student Conduct on Buses); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

STU-38 (Secure School Environment); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

STU-65 ((Student Safety); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

STU-28 (Student Conduct – Conduct/Discipline/Suspension/Expulsion); Policy Handbook for Parents and Students

—– 00 —–

In response, and on behaf of Mrs. Hazlewood, Hank, and every taxpayer in the city of Pittsfield, we say BULL SPIT to the school administration. We ain’t buying your fake policy.







  1. taxmano
    March 23, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    I’m not surprised. Everyone knows that the administration at the middle and high schools is a joke, and that nearly all of them were hired by the outgoing super (himself a protege of the infamous Doug McNally), and not on merit.
    One is a former underwear model who never shows up at his school. Another was hired because he is an old chum of Jake’s. One is an affirmative action hire who had no high school experience (and has the dubious distinction of being CEO of PHS when the $9,000 was stolen). It goes on and on. And a particularly ineffective vice principal recently got promoted to the Central Office as an assistant superintendent for vocational ed!( He was vice CEO of PHS when the money was stolen.)

    • Dave
      March 23, 2012 at 8:52 am #

      Speaking of the $9k that was stolen, was anyone ever found out as responsible? Any diciplinary action on the teacher that alegedly left that huge sum of money in a desk? Any diciplinary action on the individual that allowed students into the school that particular evening?

      My own families experience with the Pittsfield school system ended two years ago when we moved from Pittsfield to Dalton. My daughter had one classmate at Allendale that exhibited behavior towards my daughter that I would classify as bullying. It never went any farther after I talked to my daughter at length and instructed her on how to handle individuals such as this.

      In the last year, I changed jobs and now work in downtown Pittsfield. It is a very unique experience for me. A walk of North Street at lunch time is not unlike a strol through a third world city.

      Not too long ago, I walked to the Registry of Motor Vehicles from my office. On the return trip, I directly crossed East Street to the front of PHS. I was appalled to see empty condom wrappers littering the side walk directly in front of the school.

      Working downtown, I pass in front of PHS at least several times a day. I see PHS students walking past my office to go to school. My observations have only strengthened my conviction to get my daughter out of Dodge and into a different school system. My opinion of the Pittsfield school system is that it is not unlike a sewer.

      I cannot fault parents of Pittsfield students for opting out with school choice and sending their kids to other towns.

      • danvalenti
        March 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

        The $9,000 tehft just “went away” — no consequences, except a promotion for the incompetent vice-principal at PHS.

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      A joke yes, but a sad joke. A costly one, too: $89 million a year in Pittsfield.

    • your mom b**w me
      March 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      The vice CEO ,as you call him, at PHS who was promoted to asst. superintendent for vocational is an incompetent fop who spent most of his time at the school in the culinary and school kitchens eating free food and never went to the second or third floors because he couldn’t walk up the stairs and was afraid tho use the elevator in fear of being accosted by students. As they say, if you want to be promoted in the Pittsfield School Department just kiss the boss’ ass and don’t do your job. As far as McNally goes, he is and was a complete ass**** and alienated almost everyone who wasn’t an ass kisser, a complete fool.

      • taxmano
        March 24, 2012 at 5:16 am #

        I agree. And MCLA has soiled itself by becoming involved with McNally.

        • Molly
          March 24, 2012 at 10:46 am #

          I didn’t hear about that – what is McNally doing now at MCLA?

          • Steve wade
            March 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

            What’s wrong with McNally?

          • taxmano
            March 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

            He wheedled himself into a lofty position as head of Berkshire Compact.
            You haven’t seen his creepy show on PCTV?

          • Molly
            March 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

            Noooooo – and not sure that I want to, either!

          • Molly
            March 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

            Ohhhhhh wait – yes I have! And a few times! I remember thinking that he looks like McNally, never thinking it really was! He never wipes the smile off of his face – never – for the whole show!

  2. Michael Hitchcock
    March 23, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    I have mixed feelings about this story Dan. Obviously bullying is wrong and stupid. Hopefully my saying that right in the beginning will help mitigate shrill offended responses to what I must say next.

    Bullying never stops until you learn the personal strength to stop it yourself. This takes a lot of practice and a lot of self-development. This letter hits all the notes but doesn’t notice them. Hank’s mom mentions right in the second paragraph that he sometimes doesn’t know when to quit, that he doesn’t retaliate, and that the main aggressors were his “buddies.”

    We don’t know what is making those kids tick, and we can’t help them, but Hank is missing out right now; is continuing to miss out on the personal development that helps you learn to stand up for yourself.

    When you first learn a skill, you are generally not as good at it as you later become, this is natural. Applying this to standing up for yourself, this generally means that when you’re first learning to stand up for yourself, you tend to throw punches and swears- to lash out. As you learn to stand up for yourself well, you tend to be able to do it with self-confidence, compassion, and a smile.

    If Hank’s mom wants to solve the problem, she’d better get him involved in activities that foster self-confidence (I recommend Judo, an endlessly useful and totally pacifist martial art). She’d also. The bullying is obviously a symptom of lack of self-confidence, not the entire problem. Why else would Hank fail to recognize social cues when joking or pick loser friends who bully him?

    She really needs to get him started on the path of self-confidence now while he’s still a legal minor. Once he’s older, the legal consequences of standing up for yourself change, as does the criminality of “loser buddies.”

    Obviously bullying is wrong, but that is a harder and bigger issue to tackle than that of helping Hank avoid the problems that are involved with it. I wish him well.

    • levitan
      March 23, 2012 at 11:22 am #

      Excellent points – very sensitively put.

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      Great post, full of maturity and wisdom.

    • New to PV
      March 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      Mr. Hitchcock,

      How many times did you get your ass kicked by a bigger kid when you were younger? I can tell you that being on the receiving end of a whooping by someone about a foot taller and 70lbs heavier than you is an almost insurmountable problem at 14 years old.

      Hank problably was smart enough to know a little judo as a younster wasn’t going to solve his problems.

      Ever get suckered from behind? In this story Hank was stabbed. Please enlighten us as to how martial arts tranining prevents surprise attacks from behind? I am not saying that this happened but from Hank’s perspective, he never new when, or from where, he would be attacked. So fearing something like a surpirse attack from behind is REAL and contributes to the fear and certainly fear of retaliation should he stand up for himself.

      Your response is assinine; it is so easy for you to tell a kid that over time he’ll learn how to better defend himself which ignores the imminant ass beating he’s going to take. So tell me tough guy, how many times as a little kid do you so fearlessly stand up for yourself against attacks from multiple aggressors? You’re talking about kids, not adults. The solution is not as east as you propose.

      • Wilson
        March 24, 2012 at 4:41 am #

        True, but in that case there is also standing up for yourself by reporting any incident and getting the bully suspended. If the principal doesn’t respond, you stand up to the principal by calling 911 during school hours, and demand that the bully be arrested up for assault. The victim here is more afraid of the consequences of reporting than the bully is, which is irrational. Cooperating with the bullies as a way of “conflict avoidance” and social acceptance or hiding from the problem by switching schools are poor solutions.

        • danvalenti
          March 24, 2012 at 9:03 am #

          Great advice, Wilson. The next call they make after 911 is to THE PLANET.

      • Michael Hitchcock
        March 24, 2012 at 6:40 am #


        I got the shit beaten out of me frequently in the eighth grade by a kid so large we had named him “Tugboat” after the pro-wrestler.

        At a certain point I knew I had to make the cost of beating me up too high to be worth it.

        Our last fight ended in me covered in blood from my nose to my hips screaming in front of 90 kids and four teachers, “Too bad you didn’t hurt me, Tugboat!” (I hadn’t seen Raging Bull yet, so I didn’t know how funny this must’ve been to the teachers.) He couldn’t bring himself to face me again after that and the fighting and bullying slowed way down after that.

        You can hurl words like asinine without really understanding them and you can make assumptions about me and totally miss the point, or you can encourage children to learn personal courage.

        Calling me tough guy won’t do anything. You know that now my personal courage is so great that I haven’t even been in an actual fight for four years. I don’t have to anymore. There’s a fighting without fighting that is only attainable with personal courage.

        I’m sorry you are still so affected by your early experiences.

        • danvalenti
          March 24, 2012 at 8:40 am #

          You’ve express a lot of wisdom here. I know of the “fighting without fighting” of which you speak. I learned Jeet Kun Do from a black belt when I was a graduate student. The teacher was my roomie in an apartment house we shared. He gave me the most valuable lessons on fighting I have ever learned. One of them is when NOT to fight. When you take someone’s best shot and you laugh at it and mock it, 99.9% they lose. Those who attack you often do so from hate, ignorance, rage, and other irrational impulses. When you respond with rational outbursts, they are helpless. I’ve seen this happen often. The entire psychology of Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” is that it immediately diffuses the situation. Returning hate and ignorance with hate and ignorance gives a bully what he wants. Returning sarcasm and humor disarms him. Of course, you have to be able to take a punch and laugh it off. For the .01% of occasions where you may have to fight, I learned a few techniques that make a person fearless from self-confidence and courage. These were taught to me by Mike Barton, the black belt I mentioned:
          (1) If you finally do decide you must fight, do it will all resolve. Most fights are lost through lack of commitment.
          (2) Make the first move a hard one, well-placed (he taught a lot about the vulnerable parts of the body such as uppercut to chin with palm of hand, knee, groin, etc.)
          (3) Power is a function of speed, not bulk. This was huge for me, a little guy. He had me work on hand and leg speed. To this day, I still work on those. A smaller guy can generate more power than a larger guy by being faster.
          (4) Keep your balance and force your opponent to lose his. Once you’ve thrown a person off balance, perhaps 20 vulnerable body areas come into range. Pick the one that’s most available and direct one or two fast thrusts.
          (5) Move away.
          This will win most any fight that’s on reasonably fair terms. Of course, against a weapon, that’s a different story. There, the rule is “Flee a knife, charge a gun.”
          Anyway, I can see that you are a man who knows this topic thoroughly, and I appreciate your input of knowledge to THE PLANET.

  3. Molly
    March 23, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    I’m not surprised, either. I have friends who went through very similar things – PPS did NADA! NOTHING! Schoold choice was utilzed and problems ended! Actually, one of the reasons that I’ve taken an interest in PPS and just in the short time since I have, look at the strange, bizarre and corrupt things that I’ve witnessed!! So I am not surprised at all — but it saddens me a great deal.

    I’m so glad that “Hank” is doing much better. Good job, Mom & Dad!! What about all the other kids, though? And what about the kids who don’t have decent, caring and loving parents who know their kids and step in to help them (and there’s a lot of them in this city!). Very worrisome because this isn’t the “school bullying” variety when I was a kid in school – this is a level that is on a whole new planet with Social Media used, and the punks carry dangerous weapons in the Middle Schools and the gangs and the drugs — it is very scary.

    • Steve Wade
      March 24, 2012 at 6:05 am #

      Nancy Ive had nothing but good dealings with the admin of Taconic. My son got sucker punched in the hallway during lunch break . I called the VP and he looked at the video tapes and caught the kid. He was suspended from school. All it took was 1 phone call. I will admit that once they heard my name was Steve Wade that made them move faster… I also think that Hanks Mom has more issues with the schools than what we hear from her letter. I would have liked Dan to get the other side of the story also. But then people wouldn’t get enraged and blog about it.

      • Molly
        March 24, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

        And also, I’m sure the schools aren’t allowed to discuss their side in a particular case, in public.

      • Diogenes
        March 25, 2012 at 12:25 am #

        Alright, Mr Wade, I’ll bite. What sway does the name Steve Wade have? Why, once they heard what your name was, did all the pegs line up in a row? I’ve known people who have mega cachet but never one who bragged about it to a public forum. But as we know, times have changed. So, just who are you? chief of PPD, knave to the Mayor? or something bigger? Less? Pray tell, don’t make us keep guessing.

        • Molly
          March 25, 2012 at 2:12 am #

          Jerry Doyle!! 🙂

          • LV
            March 25, 2012 at 8:16 am #

            Onbviously Hanks mom isn’t a recognizable name in the city or there would have been a bit more concern. My experinece with bullying as a kid was different than it is today. I got spit on and ridiculed for a physical defect. This kid was stabbed. No matter how annoying a person is, no one deserves to be stabbed. And notice she mentioned he was more vivacious early on in middle school, but reclusive at the end. Doesn’t sound like he went around looking to annoy his peers to me. He developed a reputation to make his peers appear impressive to one another.
            Anyone who makes light of this is either from the old school (ie; OLD) or has their head in the sand. Kids aren’t being raised by 2 parent homes these days. Men aren’t being taught how to be men (meaning fair) and moms are worried all the time.
            How do we strengthen these men? By giving them consequences.
            Tai Kwan Do or any form of self defense class can’t compare to a weapon. DV was raised in a different era. You punched the guy, then you went on your way and played with eachother in the school yard the next day. Times have changed. The media influences our children. single parent homes influence our children. Both parents working influences our children. they are left to raise themselves. Without moral teaching, this will only get worse. Without consequences, this will become dire.

          • danvalenti
            March 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

            Schools cannot be expected to clean up the mess that people make of their lives by having children out of wedlock, bailing out on their responsibilities after they decide to have kids, and the like. We would recommend, therefore, that the schools don’t even try. Focus on education, teach the children who want to learn, and dump the rest in the river.

          • Molly
            March 25, 2012 at 10:47 am #

            LV – can’t disagree with you at all… Consequences are an excellent learning tool, and one that also prepares them for life in the real world. And perhaps will make them think twice before choosing the wrong way in life as there will be consequences to pay…

            However, the consequence in the PPS appears to be the JRC. First, is this really a consequence? I hear that they play ping pong and pool and basketball all day long! What kind of consequence is that? What the school policy specifies about classes and doing the class work, isn’t actually what happens. And second, it appears as though many times it’s the wrong kids being sent there.

            This upcoming appointment of a new School Superintendent is an EXTREMELY important appointment. And the GOB’s are just going to force their chosen one onto us again — even after a long history of failure as the Deputy Superintendent and without even a proper search to see what talent and “successful experience” is out there. And yet again, they have made it so that the people have no input and they even went so far as to be sure that certain members of their own School Committee had no input! It reeks so bad and yet the citizens of Pittsfield yet again just sit back and take it — with an attitude of “whatever”. Pittsfield will also be forced to take out multi-million dollar loans to pay for a new Taconic High School Building, and again, it sounds like a “done deal” and again, with no input from its citizens. Until people start fighting back and showing up at meetings and insisting that things be changed, they never will be.

          • Boom
            March 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

            Don’t think his kids went to Taconic. Nancy, you’re obsession is approaching DV levels.

          • danvalenti
            March 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

            Learn the difference between “dedication” and “obsession.”

  4. Ray Ovac
    March 23, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    In Re: Hank.
    How come Hank’s well-intentioned Mom did not enroll young Hank in self-defense classes? Karate and Judo are offered for children as young as 5 years old. In 3rd or 4th grade I had to deal with a fellow classmate, Todd, who was picking on me. Finally, one afternoon after school Todd and me had it out a few blocks from the schoolyard. To my surprise I whupped Todd in a fair fight with everybody around watching. Of course Todd never bothered me again. More importantly, I surprised myself. That little ‘victory’ instilled a lot of self-confidence that was not there before. Fighting back against bullies works and builds self-esteem. It is so true that it is not the size of the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog.
    I’m don’t recommend fighting on even an irregular basis but once in a while, a well-timed, well-aimed punch will do wonders to settle differences when a kid is being bullied.

    • Joe Blow
      March 23, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      My nephew was bullied at school and when he pushed the bully to get him out of his face, he got suspended! He had to goto the old jail on second st. for 5 days with much older kids. The people at jrc promised my sister he would be safe and would not be around high school kids. Well…on day 2 he had milk poured over his head and was sucker punched resulting in a huge shiner! NOTHING was done…no charges.. Nothing!

      • Scott
        March 23, 2012 at 10:33 am #

        Damn, life isn’t fair…

        • Joe Blow
          March 23, 2012 at 11:30 am #

          What is that supposed to mean?

          • Scott
            March 23, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

            How come they didn’t fight back against those kids? Does a parent have to consent to their kid going over to the second street jail? I’d rather handle the punishment at home. If the child is like you said why as a parent allow them to go to a place with much worse kids as punishment? My comment was a sarcastic response meant to give the idea that up to the point that I read your comment I believed life WAS fair but in reality it is not.

      • danvalenti
        March 23, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

        That’s a repeated theme in almost all the stories about bullying in the Public Schools: “Nothing was done … no charges … Nothing!”

        • Scott
          March 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

          But his family member was punished.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

      Ray nothing wrong with self-defense classes,but know student should have to use them in the course of the school day.The school should have zero tolorance for any bullying and fighting.Pittsfield is finding out the hard way that the students and parents don’t have to put up with there inaction.School choice has kick Pittsfield in the nuts.

  5. Ray Ovac
    March 23, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Plus, word gets around fast if a kid shows a willingness to fight back and not to tolerate being bullied. How many kids want to risk getting a bloody nose?

    • Scott
      March 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

      I was always afraid to get hit then one day I did and it really isn’t that bad now I find out I have a really high tolerance for pain. of course the objective is to not get hit so stick and move.

  6. Wilson
    March 23, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Where was the kid’s father? He doesn’t need mom’s wing, he needs to be told that “pacifism” is a sick idea.

    • Michael Hitchcock
      March 23, 2012 at 11:14 am #

      Pacifism has many uses and if you never use it you’re as sick as if you always do.

      • levitan
        March 23, 2012 at 11:25 am #

        “Lashing out” also won’t work well in an office. I like what you wrote, MH.

        But, there comes a time when children do need to be withdrawn for their own protection. Hank may miss this opportunity, but he will gain confidence when the time is right.

      • danvalenti
        March 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

        Great insight, here.

      • Scott
        March 23, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

        Remember the karate kid “I don’t wanna fight” Fine says the bully “just stand there while I beat the crap outta you!”

  7. Joe Blow
    March 23, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Dan, what do you think about the school courier who was in court this week? How does she corrupt a student and keep her job? Crazy!

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

      They should both be tossed. In a smartly run district, they would be. However, as we know, PPS system is ALL about politics. It has nothing to do with education.

      • spectator
        March 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

        Nah, it’s not about politics either. It’s about paychecks.

        • Scott
          March 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

          what is politics about other then money these days?

      • ambrose
        March 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

        you’re right planet – there is not one decent teacher in the entire pittsfield school system who would ever do anything to help a child – every single teacher is a hateful rotten piece of dung who cares nothing for the children and only for themselves and their paychecks – bullying persists, nothing is ever done, there’s one side to every story no matter what – K thru 12 not one person is safe in the PPS – thankfully we have the planet who has spent many hours observing in the public schools and not just listening to the grumblers – can anyone forget Jane Johnson, the morally corrupt friend of the planet’s who worked to rule because she didn’t have the guts to stand up for what she thought was right? – even our elected leaders, farlieghbovine has enought common sense to get her kids out of this hell hole pittsfield calls a school system – spectator knows what its all about

        • Steve Wade
          March 24, 2012 at 6:12 am #

          Sorry Ambrose but you don’t know what the hell your talking about!

          • Molly
            March 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

            Me too, Steve! I took it all as sarcasm until the last sentence or two and then said, “oh – maybe not!!” hahahahaha

  8. Scott
    March 23, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Bullying is simple to deal with punch the bully in the face. Things are out of control these days as a society we are allowing this to happen. One of the deciding factors for high school when it comes to my kids if I opt out of private (if I can afford it they will go to private.) is can I drive to the school and be there with in 15 to 30 minutes. Because you can bet your last dollar if I have to I will be there making sure my child is safe.

    • New to PV
      March 23, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Another tough guy. Scott, let me guess; if you were being bullied by Mike Tyson, you’d have the balls to punch him in the face…sure you would.

      • Joetaxpayer
        March 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

        New to PV must agree, at what point will punches not be enough and then a knife and gun will come into play.As Barney Fife would say this thing needs to be nipped at the bud.

        • Molly
          March 23, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

          We’re long past that — the buds have already fully bloomed!

      • Scott
        March 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

        no I’d shoot him

        • Molly
          March 23, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

          Welllll, Scott – you just nailed it! As I said previously, this isn’t the “school yard bully” of times gone by. These punks are in the Bloods gang and the other gangs and they confront with 10 to 15 against one, and they carry knives and other very dangerous weapons. And if you tell, you will get it much worse – that’s what the gangs live by — you don’t everrrrr rat out on a gang member for any reasson! It’s an entirely different world out there now. And it’s also the girls! The girls gang up to at least 10 to 15 on one and do the same things as the guys – brutal awful things that kids in our day just didn’t do! These are NOT “throw a punch” and “throw another punch back” type of problems — they are much more serious. These gangs recruit these kids in 7th grade and get them started. Kids at school know to never wear black and red unless they are a “member” because they’ll be seriously injured. And facebook pages are created with the sole purpose of “verbally” continuing the intimidation and abuse and horrible things are said. It is a real serious problem!

          I did like Michael’s post and to some extent, he has some valid points. But not when you’re dealing with these types of gangs – there’s no way. I’m sure he was “afraid” to stand up for himself because it likely wasn’t a “one on one” situation and was very intimidated as they’re very good at doing that.

          • levitan
            March 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

            Molly’s concerns about gang is valid too. Lesson is this: life is hard and you only learn the hard way. In other words, Judo lessons and a punch to the nose won’t necessarily fix the problem and won’t address emotional bullying which is just as destructive.

            The mother’s decision falls into the “take charge of your life’ solution – in this case the answer was to hell with the school. But, Michael is also correct in that the son will have to learn to defend himself emotionally.

  9. X-Ray I's
    March 23, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    The worst part of this as the article shows is what we all know is happening in the Pittsfield schools, and 99percent of the corruption we don’t know about, yet nothing is done, the school committee will hire another insider, another flunkie who who not rock the boat so everyone feeding like pigs on school dept $$$ will be kept well fed. The kids? Screw em. The mayor, council president, somebody — school committee, show some ball, Alf — needs to start throwing a few tables and chairs and telling Jake and Co: enough. Its gonna stop .

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      This story has brought a lot of people out of the woodwork to share their awful experiences with bullying and the schools: Summing them up, there’s a huge, unaddressed problem that is ruining education and lives.

    • dusty
      March 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      I think you have summed it up quite nicely. but don’t expect any help from Alf…Alf was put in to keep thing the way they are, not to make any rash changes that might stop the flow of money.

      You can tell by the way the kids at PHS are allowed to dress that no one in charge gives a damn about their chances for an education. Enforcing a dress code would be a rather easy thing but they don’t even have the guts to confront the children on this matter. They just want to slide along and be able to cash that fat paycheck and enjoy the summer off. The school dept may very well be the backbone of the GOB.

      (and I am not talking about the teachers)

      • X-Ray I's
        March 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

        I agree with a dress code. Uniforms is the way to go. DV will you be doing a story on that?

  10. Concern
    March 23, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Well Dan you got her story! What about the school side. Always two side and then the truth down the middle somewhere.

    • danvalenti
      March 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      The schools have the same opportunity that Mrs. Hazlewood has. They can contact me, and I shall be glad to listen.

  11. GMHeller
    March 23, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Mr. Valenti,
    You might want to check your server or your computer to see if you have a virus or malware or evidence of a Trojan.
    When I logon to, there are a series of websites that get simultaneously connected according to my version of Firefox (on the lower left corner of the Firefox browser; and unfortunately one of those websites has a .ru in the address.
    .RU web sites can be a lot of trouble.
    On my computer, I do not see evidence of .ru web sites when I log into other Berkshire or my own Web sites.
    Recommend you check your computer for viruses and malware and trojans, because there may be computer language now coded into your web site of which you are unaware.

    • Molly
      March 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

      I’ve received several very serious viruses and finally narrowed it down to this was the only internet site that I was on… This was about a month ago, though, and I haven’t had any recently.

      • dusty
        March 24, 2012 at 4:50 am #

        I see I get cookies from Dans site…whats with that?

        • danvalenti
          March 24, 2012 at 9:07 am #

          DUSTY, GMH, ETC.
          We received this information from our webmaster:
          “The .ru domain ending means that it is a site in Russia. Not all .ru addresses mean trouble. There are good and bad sites in Russia. The sharing plug-in that we recently added to your site also has the ability to post to Russian social networking sites. So that is why there is code in your site that links to .ru sites. There isn’t malicious code in your site.”
          Thank you for your vigilance. Keep us posted of anything else along these lines.

          • GMHeller
            March 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

            Why would a Russian social networking site have any interest in a Pittsfield MA-oriented Web site?
            You might want to instruct the Webmaster to delete any code that contains links to any foreign web sites; there’s just too much risk of problematic viruses and Trojans.

          • danvalenti
            March 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

            Thank you.

          • Steve wade
            March 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

            Dan what’s wrong with having a server from the USA?

  12. Jim Gleason
    March 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    When I switched from Catholic schools to North Jr. in 9th grade a bigger kid tried to start picking on me because he thought I’d be an easy mark, coming from Catholic school. The second day of school I told him to meet me near the footbridge on Wahconah St. and we’d have it out. I wupped him quickly and rubbed his face in a pile of dog droppings to let him and everybody else watching (of course a crowd had heard about the confrontation from him) not to bother me. I never had a bit of trouble from that moment on, even in High School. There’s a ime for peace and a time for war, as the Byrds sung.

  13. Sandy
    March 23, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    It is truly sad that most of you with your responses are living in the days when you were young and there was discipline in the schools and in the homes. We are living in a different world today. You can ask any teacher who will answer you truthfully about the bullying policy if it is for real in our school system. If the teacher is honest and knows you, they will just laugh at you and say what policy? Bullying has been going on for a long time now. If someone hits back and gets caught, they get sent over to the wonderful jail. We debated that program last week. KIDS are bullied every day in our middle schools and high schools and nothing is done. Learning judo etc. is fine to learn to know for your life, but students who are bullied develop a very low self esteem, their grades go down, school is never a happy place. You tell your parents and they try to help and contact the school and the school have no idea what to do and if they do something it usually ends up making it worse for the student.
    Seems like the school dept needs to clean house of the administrators. Start backing the teachers, their policies and the students and educate the children in the city of Pittsfield.
    Believe me I know other parents that could tell DV the same story or very close to it that Mrs. Hazelwood so courageously shared with him.
    Thanks Dan for bringing this huge problem to light!

    • Scott
      March 23, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      You are right and it doesn’t stop when they get on the bus these days thanks to social media and they are also being ganged up on by more then one kid. more parental involvement needs to happen another poster used a hypothetical unlikely scenario to try and discredit me using mike Tyson but realistically if it was my kid I would be at the school and I would be in contact with the suspected child’s parents.

      • LV
        March 26, 2012 at 5:06 am #

        It’s true that the schools shouldn’t have to clean up the garbage that poor parenting created, but in the meantime teachers and peers know enough to report abuse when they see it. Like i stated earlier, I was teased mercilessly. Not only did I have a physical defect, but I lived in poverty and grew up in a drug addicted and abusive household at the hands of a single mother and a father who chose to start a life elsewhere. School was hell and home was hell and no one intervened on my behalf. I had no support in or out of school. DSS was involved, but I was never protected.
        My point is this: No one knows what goes on in this poor kid’s life. It sounds like his mother is desperate to help him. If you have never walked in the shoes of a suicidal bullied teen, you have no right to talk about the simple solution of rubbing the bully’s nose in dog crap. 35 years ago when I was tormented I feared for my life. Molly is right about gangs. They are ruthless and they KNOW their parents don’t care, and even if they were given any kind of disciplinary measure they are still welcomed to return to school. This kid’s mom had to make her own way in a flawed system to posiibly save his life. There is no simple solution. Every kid has different levels of sensiivity. Some of us were told to fight, some of us were told to turn the other cheek and some of us were so afraid to talk for fear of retaliation. ONE TIME my mother got involved by calling one of my bullies parents, and you can only GUESS what happened next. I never told my mother again.

        • Molly
          March 26, 2012 at 6:36 am #

          LV — I am so sorry. I wish school could’ve been a good experience for you to look back on fondly all of your life. Unfortunately, that’s not reality. How are you doing today? It appears that despite how difficult things were, that you have overcome that and you are intelligent and articulate, albeit with my scars…

          • LV
            March 26, 2012 at 9:49 am #

            Thank you for caring. I am a well-rounded educated artist and parent who, as a child, had my own moral core. This is a passionate subject for me, as you can tell. As damaged as I could be, I am grateful for my experiences in this life because I am a compassionate and driven woman.
            I look forward to your posts each day, though I often stay in the background. Thank you for contributing. I know Dan appreciates it as well.

  14. Jim Gleason
    March 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    I saw the Finance Committee meeting today and was thinking that vwe as a city need to sign more open contracts (NOT) What kind of stupidity is that? I think we should drag ruberto’s ass back from Florida and sue him for the difference of the overage in cost.What va maroon. I’ve seen better heads on a mug of root beer. I’ve never heard of an open contract in my life. A price is agreed upon and is paid upon completion of services, none of this do the job and charge us what you like after you’re done. This is ludicrous and to have a person with nothing more than a high school diploma, Colleen Hunter, making decisions on things an engineershould be deciding is also ludicrous. I hope Mayor Bianchi fixes that situation very quickly. I’m so thankful for Melissa Mazzeo asking questions of these people on matters such as this.Clairmont asked some good questions but when it came time to vote he voted to approve, unlike Melissa who voted no.I think some of vthese guys need to grow some balls and standup for us. It’s not happening now.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Well said,Jim as usual you don’t pull any punches.Now lets get down to hoops,I think it is the end of the road for you and Dans Orangemen.I think Ohio State will handle them easily,but give them credit for going through alot of distraction this year and making it this far.Beware of Umass next year,my sleeper team.

      • Jim Gleason
        March 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

        The Cuse will win tonight. After that I’m not sure, depends on who they play, but they will beat OSU.

        • Rick
          March 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

          Bye Bye ‘Cuse

  15. J.R. Fein
    March 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    The phone logs in the Nilan case have shown this to be a different case than most anyone has imagined and far more serouis.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

      It has always been serouis to me.A man was run down by a young woman who did nothing to help him.He was serously injured and is lucky to be alive.All the Nillians have done to this point is cover there own asses,with no thought to the victim.There seems to be changing stories about what happened that nite,kinda fitting that Peters benefit was at Chammeleons.

    • Molly
      March 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      Then will there be more serious charged filed against her?

      • J.R. Fein
        March 23, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

        This could happen. Could. Far more serious.

        • dusty
          March 24, 2012 at 4:53 am #

          And who might file them? I mean really, do you see anyone with the power and the backbone to do such a thing? Cliff obviously has friends in high places. Very high places, and it would seem they would rather this ball of string does not unravel any further than it has.

        • spectator
          March 26, 2012 at 10:17 am #

          Attempted murder?

    • Diogenes
      March 25, 2012 at 1:12 am #

      Are you saying that maybe she intended to kill him? Deliberately? On purpose? Is that why she’s shown no inkling of regret or saying that she’s sorry? Now why would she do something like that???
      Pshaw! It can’t be! Can it? And btw, how did you come to have access to such a tantalizing tidbit? Why not give all of the tidbit, instead of a measly crumb? I’m starting to not believe you!

  16. Joetaxpayer
    March 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    All one really needs to know about the Pittsfield Public Schools is the fact that one of there employees was charged with a crime involving a student.The employee has not been suspended or fired.I guess thats how they roll.That says alot about the district,and there is no need to advertise the many great things that Pittsfield has to offer students.They should lead by example and set a high bar for both employees and students.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Joetaxpayer. You are right, but thank the union for that. School administrators are afraid of unions Talk about bullies, the unions are the biggest bullies around.

    • Molly
      March 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

      Exactly. Well said.

    • Molly
      March 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

      I’m hoping that it’s merely that because of the unions, it is taking a few days to get her out – they need to make sure that they “do it right”. Otherwise, this is totally outrageous and we just can’t put it up with it. This PPS employee contributed to the delinquency of one its students! She HAS to be gone! Period – no discussions, other than how to do it so that it sticks.

  18. rick leab
    March 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    I was occasionally pushed and challenged to fight in school, and punched in the head once at a dance. I would always turn around and say “Look I’m not going to fight you” and that would pretty much end it. Had my vocabulary been more advanced, I would have said “Listen you putrid inbred troglodyte, I’m not going to fight you”. To Michael Hitchcock, Jim Gleason, and especially Scott, I would say something even worse.
    ………. Sweet sixty and never hit anyone.

    • Scott
      March 24, 2012 at 6:05 am #

      Sticks and stones pops I never hit anyone who didn’t ask for it.

    • Jim Gleason
      March 24, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      What would you say, rick? As I explained, I was being bullied and stood up for myself and believe that’s the way to alleviate that problem. You don’t and that’s a difference of opinion. I stood up for myself and never had another problem.Poof, problem gone.

    • Michael Hitchcock
      March 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      You grew up with the confidence I had to learn the hard way. I would be amused and confused if you tried to speak rudely to me about it. Go for it.

      If I thought Hank could skip straight to the “look I’m not going to fight you” method, presently my personal favorite, I would be happy. But he’s just not there.

      Don’t hate us because we lacked your head start. Good job never having to hit anybody.

  19. Swen
    March 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm #

    I take exception to your statement that their is not a decent teacher in the city of Pittsfield and not one that would ever help a child and only they care about their paychecks.
    There are many dedicated teachers in the Pittsfield School System who care about the students and teach them everyday to the best of their ability. No teacher is in it for the money.
    I taught for 40 years and loved every minute of it. I know many teachers who are still teaching who are doing a great job and spend more money on their classrooms and students with those checks that you claim that is all they teach for. I wish I was still teaching so I could invite you in to visit my class for a whole day so you could see what a classroom teacher has to do everyday in this “modern” world.

    • ambrose
      March 24, 2012 at 5:08 am #

      Good to hear from you swen – i taught for over 35 yrs – note that it took 59 comments (yours) for someone to say one good about the school system – there are hundreds of teachers and a few administrators (very few) who really care and do spend their own time and money to help kids who have very little help at home – the Planet does nothing but open this up for every unhappy person to say anything they want – somebody wrote or implied that the teachers just stand around while kids are being bullied – its been a long time since i was teaching – if some of these mindless people like the Planet would go to a public school and spend some time in a 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade and watch a teacher who has to be mother, father nurse, counselor, fixer of broken zippers, lady who provides boots that fit to children who have none as well as reading instructor they might get a feel for what goes on. but thaat will never happen, they would rather sit in front of their keyboards and snipe at every thing that they imagine – in the small mind of the Planet and all his ditto heads all you did for 40 years was to sit all winter waiting for summer vacation – good luck my friend, i don’t think either of us would exchange our long careers, despite what this blog says about us – sorry you couldn’t see through what i said above

      • Steve wade
        March 24, 2012 at 7:16 am #

        Ambrose. At first I thought you were being sarcastic but then I thought you were serious. My bad!

      • danvalenti
        March 24, 2012 at 9:00 am #

        The “good” comments are made every day, ad infinitum ad nauseum, by the school department itself, by administrators 100% of the time and by the teachers union when it suits their purposes. As you admit: It’s been a long time since you taught. You wouldn’t recognize today’s classrooms, particularly beginning with the middle schools, where the situation is a ticking time bomb and growing worse. We’re not talking, as you are, of the angelic 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. No one on this site issued a blanket condemnation as you falsely misstate. No one said that all teachers do is sit all winter waiting for summer vacation. YOU said that, not anyone from this site, which may be a Freudian slip on your part. You have a decent head on your shoulders: Open up to what’s happening. That is the first step to a solution, one that the Pittsfield schools system — which is 100% compromised by corrupt politics — refuses to acknowledge. Why? Sadly, because it’s all about the paychecks. We do find refreshing you admission of the failure of administrators, with their six-figure salaries. We find agreement: The administrators of the PPS are dismally ineffective. They are afraid to rock the boat because they have been bought off by $$$. Thank you for your participation in this discussion.

        • ambrose
          March 24, 2012 at 9:47 am #

          Man, you are missing the biggest scoop to hit Palookaville in a long time. Your snoops are clueless if they haven’t found out about it. Huge rumors out there, except there not rumors.

          • danvalenti
            March 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

            Trust us, we’re not missing out on a thing.

  20. Molly
    March 23, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    A big part of Ruberto’s “strategy” was to never admit the drug problem and the gang problem that exists to a large extent in Pittsfield, and it goes into the Middle and High Schools as well. The police make major arrests and there’s never a peep about it in the paper because it would taint the nice little Berkshire city of Pittsfield. He concentrated only on re-doing North and South Streets, putting up the old-fashioned lamp posts and installing self waterers for the flower pots. And stuck his head in the sand with all of the real problems that are out there. Wouldn’t let our only newspaper even report on the problems and probably didn’t allow the police to really do much, either – tied their hands. I keep hoping that Bianchi will be different but so far, I’m not seeing it… But we also have to give him a chance to do it, too – it’s not going to change overnight. I just hope that he has his sights on it.

    March 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm #


  22. too tall
    March 24, 2012 at 4:54 am #

    The anti bullying policy is Bull*&%$. All sorts of excuses are.used. ie., oh He’ a.special needs kid or it was just a prank. Nothing is ever done unless.the parents get involved big time. Teach your child self.defense and He goes to JRC. Oh and if you refuse to send your child to that hellhole, they are not allowed back into public school until they “serve” their time. Malkas words. School choice!!!

    • taxmano
      March 24, 2012 at 5:22 am #

      The system is broken. And broken systems are not headed by great supers, although some seem to think otherwise. I even hear teflon Jake will soon be Dan’s boss at BCC.

      The bottom line is they can buy all the billboard space they want and print slick brochures, but people will still choice out in droves for the reasons you all mention.

      • danvalenti
        March 24, 2012 at 8:52 am #

        Choice-out, Tax Man, cost Pittsfield more than $3 million last year. That’s how great the school are doing in what is fast-becoming a city worthy of a third-world nation.

    • danvalenti
      March 24, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      TOO TALL
      Correct. There are a million and one excuses why the little brat bullies can’t be punished. As for Malkas, she shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a public school, much less get paid a hundred grand to do the back-stroke there.

  23. Joe
    March 24, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    My son was jumped by 4 kids back a few years. They kicked him in the face and stomped on him. There were at least 100 people watching after school as parents waited to pick up their kids. One woman with an infant in two stepped in. The school officer walk the other way. I arrived about 300 late! I approached them and was threatened to be shot. All this in ear shot of the PHS cop. Come to find out it was the 3rd time these punks had done this to a student. I went to the superintendant and his response was” they deserve an education”. The result was that they put 2 in Taconic and 2 at PHS. We pressed charges and the result of that was that they were to write an apology letter to my son.

    • danvalenti
      March 24, 2012 at 8:42 am #

      This, sadly, is the typical experience. This, sadly, is the reality of what is going on now in the schools … not the fantasy spun by a few others here (“As soon as they found out who I was, they took care of it right away”). Thanks for sharing.

      • GMHeller
        March 25, 2012 at 1:44 am #

        All these horror stories about the school system and no one asks the question just how we got to this point?
        Who has been running the school system?
        Which political party and which political points of view in re education got us to this dismal point where the public school system takes more than 50% of the local tax dollar and gives back not only incredibly poor results but even allows kids to be placed in dangerous circumstances with everyone looking the other way?
        Dare we place focus on the mindset that got us here?

    • GMHeller
      March 25, 2012 at 1:50 am #

      Joe, do you recall the name of the genius superintendent who responded “they deserve an education”?

  24. JLook
    March 24, 2012 at 6:46 am #


    too many DUI’s? You can run but you can’t hide from the truth forever. Not in Pittsfield.

    • Joe Blow
      March 24, 2012 at 10:26 am #


  25. Molly
    March 24, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    After reading the BB article, “Tackling Taconic: ‘Urgency’ to school’s fate, treasurer asserts “, this told me that we WILL have a new Taconic High and that “we the people” will have no choice on that. We don’t even know yet what that will cost us taxpayers, but that doesn’t matter — someone with enough power wants it and so thus it will be.

    They need to first tackle the ‘Urgency’ of the underlying issues in the schools — spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a new building isn’t going to fix the ‘school’s fate’.

    • danvalenti
      March 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm #

      It will be the worst way to proceed, which means that Pittsfield will likely proceed that way.

  26. Sandy
    March 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

    Great words from Malkas that your child must go to the JRC to serve their time or they will never be allowed back into the Pittsfield School System and she is the one ALF wants for the new Superintendent. God bless our city and children in our schools if she is the chosen one to run our schools, with all that we know is going on with the dress code, bullying policy and people like the Principals and Vice Principals looking the other way. All that does is tie the teachers hands. The teachers can do nothing without the backing of the administration. For years most of them would not make a ripple never mind a wave when it came to discipline and back their teachers.

    • Molly
      March 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      You are absolutely correct, Sandy!

  27. Quentin
    March 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    As this and other articles by DV have shown the Pitts public schools are all about paychecks and preservation of status quo. That’s why mr. Barbalunga is chair of committee. The schools will be the big test for Bianchi for people to judge where he’s coming from. Because that will be the biggest opportunity for him to make positive change …if he is in fact in favor of that…or is he too another ‘status quo’ person? DVs articles have shown how on the budget, on dress code, on bullying policy school admiinistration is corrupt and not to be believed. The schools are almost as corrupt as the courts and do as much if not more damage. Any parent with a kid in PPS needs to either demand change or pull their kid out. Best school districts locally, in order: southern, then central.

    • Molly
      March 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Quentin – you are also absolutely correct!

  28. Sandy
    March 24, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

    Thank you Molly.

    I agree with you Quentin But have one question how does the new Mayor find out about how awful our schools have become? His daughter graduated last year from Taconic with extremely very high grades, taking college courses at BCC while in high school as many of her classmates did. She got accepted at all the colleges she applied to. Most of the people writing in here had no idea how bad the bullying problem is in the schools and I don’t think they still believe it after reading about it for two days. Who is going to tell the mayor who just got the job? Certainly there will be no discussion of this at the school committee meetings on which he is taking an active role. Perhaps an organized group of people concerned citizens and parents should get together and ask to meet with the Mayor and discuss the problems that our children are facing everyday in their lives at school. School is supposed to be a safe place to be and it is supposed to be a place for them to learn to become a good solid citizen and to prepare them for their future on their own.

    • Molly
      March 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

      Kids in the AP classes do seem to be somewhat more immune to what other kids go through, although I think Michael Hitchcock was also in the AP classes? But for the most part, I think that may be true. And Taconic, believe it or not, seems to be better than PHS regarding this. You may be right – when the principal doesn’t do anything and the Super doesn’t do anything, how many parents at that point go to the mayor? Likely not many. And I agree – the JRC sounds over the top to me and the parents have no say? Whatever! With all the lengths and $’s that this school system goes through to keep kids in school, are they REALLY going to ban them from school until they go to the JRC? Why is it that the punks “have a right to an education” and the kids who are trying don’t?

      I don’t ever remember being afraid of getting beat up when I was in school – not ever. That was different with the guys, I admit, and the school yard fight would occasionally break out. But wow have things sure changed now. When I talk about the gangs, I’m not talking about a handful of kids — I’m talking about a LOT of kids and it’s a huge problem!

  29. GMHeller
    March 25, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    All these horror stories about the school system and no one asks the question just how we got to this point?
    Who has been running the school system?
    Which political party and which political points of view regarding education have gotten us to this dismal point where the public school system absorbs more than 50% of local tax dollars and gives back not only incredibly poor results but even allows kids to be placed in dangerous circumstances with everyone looking the other way?
    Dare we place focus on the mindset that got us here?

    • Molly
      March 25, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      Dare we? It won’t ever get fixed unless we do! But to have someone elevated to the Super who has already failed at this isn’t going to help in the least. Fresh blood coming in and looking into how we got here, will help to figure out how to get rid of it. But with the gangs, it’s got to be a partnership with the Police and the DA as well. Hopefully parents, but for those in gangs, that likely won’t happen or a few at most. Maybe send all of the “gansta wannabe’s” who walk around with thousands of dollars in their pockets (that are down somewhere around their knees), from selling, send them all to the JRC!!! That would be a good start! And maybe expand it to using the cells again, too! 😉 And leave the kids who fought back from the bullying out of it! Just some thoughts… We spend SOOOO much money on Guidance Counselors, School Adjustment Councelors, on and on – there is now a LARGE staff of those kinds of employees, but either their hands are tied or “something” as they can’t seem to do anything!

      Still no meeting minutes for those 2 meetings – he only had 10 days to comply and that’s coming up fast — Wednesday I think.

  30. HadToSaySomething
    March 25, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    When it was time to send our two children to PHS we opted out and went to St. Joe. We had heard the stories about PHS (Gangs, drugs, dress). Both of our children were average students in the Pittsfield school system. At St. Joe they excelled. Why? It’s hard to put a finger on it. Both are now in college and deans list students. I can guarantee their life’s would not be the same if we left them in PHS. Maybe worse, maybe better? It is a choice I would make a thousand times over and over though. St. Joe was expensive but, an investment in our children’s education that is paying off. This is just the experience of my two kids.

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 25, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      You really never know how much is the school and how much is the student.Both of my kids go to PHS and have not had any problems.They have enjoyed there time there.My cousin went to St.Joe he was a great athlete,started using drugs and is now a 40 yr old addict.My other cousin went there the same time and is now a CFO for a major corporation.Not saying any school is better than the other comes down to the student and the teachers.But also the student must be comfortable with the school and not be in fear everytime they enter the building.

  31. dusty
    March 25, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    On a side note, according to Sundays Eagle a fella named Andrew Mick sold his home on Mountain Drive for $422,500. Wonder what the taxes would be on a house like that and were they similar to those surrounding it.

    • Molly
      March 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Just looked it up – it was assessed for FY12 at $419,200. Forgot what the new tax rate is (and of course it isn’t shown on the City of Pittsfield website) — was it 16.11 per thousand?

    • GMHeller
      March 26, 2012 at 12:45 am #

      So where is ol’ Andy going?
      Did he buy another local property or is he moving away altogether?

  32. Quentin
    March 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Mick’s getting ready to pull out. The Boring broadsheet will be closed by the end of the year. Owners are in receivership and their not going to put another penny into a loser

  33. Sandy
    March 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    We get more and better news on here.

    March 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    Joetaxpayer: You forgot one big factor MOTHER AND FATHER

    • LV
      March 26, 2012 at 5:26 am #

      Oftentimes, there are NEITHER.

        March 26, 2012 at 7:14 am #

        yes lv thats a big problem also

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Concerned agree Mom and Dad are huge factors.but in the case of my cousins,they both had both parents support.

  35. Holly
    March 25, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    both my sons’ went through a terrible time at Taconic. They were both honor roll students until they got to Taconic High. They weren’t just bullied by some students (jocks), but they were bullied by teachers as well.. Their father works for the School Department Bus Operations, but that didn’t matter or help. They finally both quit, which broke my heart. The principal at the time, McNally was no help at all….One of my sons was bullied out of summer school after the high cost of paying $$ for it. My daughter almost quit high school at Taconic too. When it came to final exams for my eldest son at Taconic, his English teacher said to me and my son, “why bother, he is only going to fail anyway.” The PPS needs a complete overhaul—-I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them anymore, I am sad for the Mother that got no help from anyone at Taconic-it’s such a sad state for our kids….

    • taxmano
      March 26, 2012 at 11:48 am #

      Who was the English teacher?

  36. Ralph Conte
    March 26, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    I’m glad Mrs. H finally found a way to help her son Hank. But, just wondering, did anyone ever contact the bullies parents? Maybe that could have helped. And what about fighting back? If Hank, when it was one on one, had bloodied the knuckleheads nose, who knows? it may have helped him.

  37. taxmano
    March 26, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    I’m no fan of anyone over at Mercer, believe me. Just wondering what concrete objections some have against “Dr.” (boy , that was quick) Malkas. I do think she is smarter and more qualified than Jake, who y’all seem to like (why is beyond me.)

  38. Molly
    March 26, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    I’d like to see a highly qualified, experienced person who is out of our GOB system, who can demonstrate and document the sucesses that he/she has had in another district, somewhere in our country. Perhaps one of the “inner city schools” that was such a mess and is now doing so well — someone like that would know what to do to fix these schools. Someone who doesn’t necessarily go along with the latest trends of “what to do” by left-wing liberals who don’t have a clue, but instead has been in there, with sleeves rolled up, and solved the problems – perhaps one of the ways by enforcing the wearing of uniforms, further incorporating sports and activities to ALL students and many other unconventional means.

  39. Sandy
    March 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    It has been written in here by a parent that if a student is not sent to JRC for detention they can never return to the Pittsfield Public Schools…and those are the words from the wonderful “Dr. Malkas”. She has been the one backing JRC so I understand it. Many people have found her hard to deal with. If this is true, that is not what I would think we need in a new Supt. I think we should go outside of the city if someone who has a track record that I have heard and read on here about.
    It is one thing to go for someone me that means someone who grew up in Pittsfield or Berkshire County and has taught in our school system, not someone that has come in from out of town before and then be promoted to Supt. That to me is not what I consider a local person like our former Supt. John Krieger was. He grew up in Pittsfield, taught here and work his way up thru the system.

  40. Tim
    March 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    I am just catching up on blogs here so this probably wont even be read but i feel the need to point out 3 things, and in no way am I condoning bullying, inaction of the schools, or belittling this womans story…. But:
    1. Taconic does not have 7th grade
    2. The bullying plan came out last year and the schools all throughout the state have increased training for teachers on dealing with this stuff… Was it already common sense? Yes, but a culture change has begun and takes time to fix
    3. There is so much more to it than the schools responsibility, the whole world is f’ed up and its easy to scapegoat the school or specific administrators or teachers when the culture of not just our schools, but of our society is much more to blame and much harder to fix.

    • danvalenti
      April 2, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Thank you for these measured comments.