THE ‘SAGA OF HANK HAZLEWOOD’ or HOW THE GASBAG WORDS OF THE PITTSFIELD PUBLIC SCHOOLS ON BULLYING DON’T AMOUNT TO SQUAT … YOU WON’T BELIEVE THE LENGTHS TO WHICH THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION FAILED HANK, HIS MOM, AND TAXPAYERS
By DAN VALENTI
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.
SCHOOLS: A TALE OF BULLYING THAT AMPLIFIES THE SERIOUS JOKE THAT WASTES $83 MILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY EVERY YEAR
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.
‘HE WENT FROM A SUNNY KID TO BEING RECLUSIVE AND DEPRESSED’
By SHARON 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.
HERE, FOR THE RECORD, IS THE SAD JOKE THAT IS THE PITTSFIELD SCHOOLS’ ANTI-BULLYING POLICY: A LOT OF GASBAG WORDS, SIGNIFYING NOTHIN
For the record, here’s the Pittsfield Public School District’s official anti-bullying policy:
—– 00 —–
District Anti-Bullying Policy
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.
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.
WEEKENDERS, DREAM AND DREAM BIG. END, ANON, FRIDAY’S LAST SAD OFFICE OF PAY // TO SMOOTH YOUR PASSAGE TO THE REALMS OF THE DAY … SATURDAY, SUNDAY.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE”
LOVE TO ALL.