The Bully Problem at Lakota: Cover-ups, taxes, and peer pressure


Yes—those who hate me most know exactly who I brought to the Lakota School Board meeting. He was seated on my right and to those who sought to cover up his story, you know you felt a pang of guilt, of regret, and some fear that he was affiliated with me.

But why? How did this person come to sit with me at a school board meeting? How did we become friends in the first place? After all, this was a guy who used to be a levy supporter, and a very active volunteer at Lakota East. Well, it’s the fault of the Lakota School Board actually for not taking action to help the guy out when he had a problem. This guy came to the board and presented his case and the school did everything they could to cover it up. They took his wife aside and pressured her into signing her rights away out of fear that they would smear her for the relationship she had with a teacher at the high school who had instructed her daughter. This case went all the way up to the state board of education and still the story was contained. The teacher who sent very salacious emails talking about sucking, and doing the horizontal mamba with this little girl’s mother from a school computer didn’t get fired from his position for violating the trust of the teacher-student relationship.

Instead the principal of the high school sent the teacher in question to the other high school to help keep him employed and shut up the parents who had reconciled the incident between each other after a lot of pain. Even after the relationship had ended between the woman and the teacher the parasite continued to pursue the woman asking how “their” little girl was doing on papers sent home and on voice messages over the phone. It was the kind of voice message that sent shivers up the spine of the woman. It felt as if the teacher was “bullying” her into a position of control, and the teacher continued to do this for quite some time after the affair ended and the child was out of his class. Because in all reality, nothing really happened to the teacher, he just reported to a different building within the Lakota School System once the story was presented to the principal and school board.

Out of desperation and risking that I would shoot him just for stepping on my property, this father sought me out for help because he had nowhere else to turn. He wanted someone to be accountable for what this teacher attempted to do to his family. So I covered their story in greater detail in another article. Click Here to view that piece. Over time, we have become friends and I have gotten to know their daughter who is now out of school. After the incident with the teacher this little girl was repeatedly harassed by other students at Lakota.  The bullying became so bad that the parents had to remove their little girl from a very respected activity due to the constant harassment, all of which is well documented with an extensive paper trail.   Remember, this used to be dedicated Lakota volunteer who is very well liked and respected in the Lakota community, so the man has no reason to be inflammatory.  Once the little girl graduated from school she once again thrived, and this was the 18-year-old woman who recently showed me around her house and shared with me her crushes that she had on her favorite movie stars. As she spoke to me I could not help but wonder what kind of evil would possess a teacher to use this nice young woman as a tool to seduce her mother into beginning a sexual affair. What evil would try to pry from this innocent girl facts about her father that the teacher could use to smear against the mother. And what evil could use the special needs condition of the young girl to demand audience from the very busy, and concerned mother who would do anything to make sure her daughter got what she needed in school.

So is there bullying going on at Lakota, and virtually every public school all across the country? YES! Of course there is. Public schools are notoriously class specific, and peer groups are created within a public school system to meet the various classifications of personalities. Because such a thing is a primal desire, to find likeness among peers, children will pick on those who are not like them and pound into shape those similar into a group collective. Individuality is frowned down upon by every member of the public school system, which is why I dislike public school and always have. But when the pressure gets to be too great that it translates into a student wanting to take their own life, then the situation is way out of control and has expanded beyond the realm of tolerance.

When I heard about the recent suicide at Lakota West, I didn’t want it to be another negative article to write against the Lakota School System. My heart goes out to the parents of this little girl. I don’t care what the situation was, a system that lets a girl think death was the only way out has failed the child and the family who trusted the school. And unfortunately it sounds like the girl was suffering from bullying at her school to such an extent that she thought she had no way out.

Since this story was reported by Channel 9 one time during the second week of February 2012 and nowhere else, facts are hard to come by. The letter that Lakota sent home to parents was nowhere to be found on their website, which seemed to be big enough news to dictate sending the letter home with kids. I did however see the article by the Enquirer about the new school board member Julie Schaffer promoting her “volunteerism.” But there wasn’t anything about this tragic death that occurred on February 8th in the paper that I saw, or on the Lakota site giving any specifics. That seemed strange for such a sad story.

I figured that the media and the school were just being sensitive to the family, and by keeping the story quit, they were being respectful to the grieving family, which I thought was appropriate. That is until I saw the comments online from Leslie Agoston who is a student at Lakota West and knows the victim. Here is the posting.

Leslie Agoston
I am a current Lakota West High School student. And I know what the girl went through and how she felt. I too get bullied almost every day. And Lakota could care less they just sweep it under the rug. They just care about their “excellence” rating. If they just stopped for a second and realize how many kids are suffering from bullying an incident like this would have never happened.

Read more: http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/region_north_cincinnati/west_chester/lakota-west-freshman-school-student-commits-suicide#ixzz1mV4Yv6cX

That is an interesting thing for a student at Lakota to say? That comment eerily sounded like the situation my new friend who came to the school board meeting with me went through. The comment from the student implies that the administration at Lakota doesn’t care about the bullying that goes on. It backs up the notion that my friend is not the only one who suffered from some indiscretion involving bullying at the Lakota School District.

But what constitutes bullying? Was it bullying to use a special needs kid to sleep with a parent? Might the child have felt pressure from such a teacher into revealing family secrets through acts of intimidation? Was it bullying to tell the mother that unless she signed a document releasing the school of responsibility that “word might get around the community about her indiscretions.” And apparently the students at Lakota West are complaining about bullying being a rampant problem that nobody is addressing.

Well, for clarity on this issue, let’s look at what Lakota itself says the definition of bullying is according to their website.

Lakota’s Definition of Bullying

“Bullying” is defined as an intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that a student exhibits toward another particular student more than once; and the behavior both (1) causes mental or physical harm to the student, and (2) is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that a reasonable person under the circumstances should know will have the effect of:
• Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or damage to the student’s property;
• Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property; or
• Insulting or demeaning any student or group of students in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school’s educational mission or the education of any student.
http://www.lakotaonline.com/parents.cfm?subpage=2642

I know that my friend and his family suffered from bullying according to that definition at the hands of a Lakota teacher, a principal, and the school board members who knowingly let the issue slide through the cracks. They did not pursue termination of that teacher, but instead covered the issue up, which is consistent with the statement made by Leslie Agoston in her comments about the recent tragic death of her fellow student.

I understand that any organization with a lot of people and employees will be far from perfect. But we do expect perfection from an airplane pilot. If a pilot lands successfully 300 times then crashes on landing 301 that pilot would be held accountable, probably with the loss of their job at the very least. If there was a loss of life, there might even be a trial. The community of Lakota is employing an army of very well paid administrators, teachers and councilors to prevent tragic events like what Leslie described. It is also expected that teachers behave ethically without trying to have sex with the parents. The kids are watching how the administrators and teachers behave, and kids cannot be expected to be better than the teachers, can they?

It is a tragedy anytime a young person losses their life. It’s bad enough to consider whatever the sum of the conditions were that made the little girl want to take her own life. Again, my heart goes out to the family in the deepest way. And I truly hope that what Leslie said is not true, that this bully problem is not so epidemic within the Lakota School System that the situation could have been avoided with the skilled intervention of the highly paid mentors employed by the community. Because if it could have, then this suicide is a very serious issue for the school board to consider, and so far, all I hear them talking about is the passage of a new tax levy. They didn’t even bring it up at the school board meeting on February 13, 2012. They didn’t even say a prayer for the little girl or cover the issue in any way which would have been appropriate with such a large gathering. All these elements add up to be just another situation as what my friend experienced in his own family, a school that pushes all bad news under the rug to hide from the community.

I really hope I’m wrong, but something tells me that I’m not.

The biggest problem with the whole bullying issue is that the schools have painted themselves into a corner. They are not equipped to deal with bullying. Only a parent is, and sometimes the best way to eliminate a bully is to fight them. That’s how you shut down a bully. That’s how it’s been done for 10,000 years of human evolution. And if the child can’t take care of it on their own, the parents must step in and do it for them.

When my daughter was 9 years old she was picked on by a group of boys in the neighborhood who harassed her and her friends to no end. My daughter stood up to the bullies and one of the boys spit on her. My daughter was devastated by the embarrassment and came home very upset that a person would do such a thing to her, especially since the boy was much bigger than she was. That’s when the parent must step in and take control.

I put my daughter and all her friends in the car and went looking for the boys. I found them playing in the driveway of their house with the spitter’s father working in the garage, all of them were laughing as we pulled up. I made the boy apologize on his hands and knees to my daughter so my daughter would realize that I had her back and that if she ever got into a fix she couldn’t handle, that I’d be there to sweep it up for her. She needed to know that her father was there. Of course the boy’s father protested and wanted to fight me, which I openly accepted. Then he shut his mouth and went inside his house leaving his kids to fend for themselves, which scared the shit out of them. Their father had abandoned them when it mattered. Little things like that matter a lot in the art of living.

These matters are too complicated for schools to handle, yet they sell their services to the community as though they can. They are kidding themselves. Respect for human beings cannot be created through rules and regulations. Respect is earned, and standing up for yourself or your child is the way it is gained in the mind of the human being. There is no other way.

It is in this misunderstanding that bullying is an epidemic problem in public schools and parents who believe that the school system can, and will put children’s safety in the front of administrator’s minds are kidding with you. Administrators don’t have the intellectual capacity, or the fortitude to do such a thing, and the cost to society is great. The bully issue in public school is just another byproduct of an organized, overly specialized, labor force that has handcuffed parents into inaction because they assure society that all problems can be handled in the classroom. So parents believing they don’t have a right to get involved in the affairs of their children in school leave the job to the teachers and administrators that can’t even balance a budget, let alone handle complicated emotional issues with children who aren’t even theirs.

The schools know this. They know they can’t protect the children to the level they have sold to the public. Their primary concern is always how they are going to continue to gain funding from the community, so they are always focused on hiding unpleasant facts from the public rather than dealing directly with a problem. This is why Lakota didn’t even discuss the suicide of a student just four days later at the largest school board meeting I can ever remember occurring at Lakota with all the media in Cincinnati covering the event. The school board didn’t even acknowledge the tragedy, because the goal of the meeting was to convince the community of the need for higher taxes, not to actually deal with any tough problems like mature adults. This is the kind of behavior that has created most of the problems in public education. That’s how they got into trouble with my new friend. They sought to suppress the story rather than dealing with it directly.

The bullies of the world know this. They know that most of the parents, administrators, and teachers are paralyzed into inaction by rules and regulations that the bullies could care less about. So like the liberal gun laws that seek to remove guns from society in the aim of world peace, the progressive educators think that by employing more councilors and administrators that they can stop violence and the tendency of violence from the school environment. They can’t.

The answer is more parental involvement, less administrators getting in the way of a parent and their children, and encouraging justice where it’s appropriate. When a teacher does something wrong, FIRE THEM! When a child acts inappropriately, expel them! And when you hear and see reports from parents that violence is coming at their children in the school, don’t pass the reports to your PR director to hide from the public. Deal with them; deal with each and every report even if the parents are overly neurotic, because that’s what the community is paying for. If there is anything that can be learned from these tragedies it’s that there isn’t any replacement for good ol’ fashioned care and attention. Money can’t buy security and a clean conscious, only work can solve the problem and without the work, tragedies will continue to occur.

Rich Hoffman

https://overmanwarrior.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ten-rules-to-live-by/
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com
 

Check out Rich Hoffman’s favorite website, (besides this one):

http://thepeoplescube.com/

7 thoughts on “The Bully Problem at Lakota: Cover-ups, taxes, and peer pressure

  1. After days of reflection on the most recent blog by Rich Hoffman I have decided it would serve all to address its content. Although my thoughts and emotions have varied one thing that has remained the same his article is based on fact and the belief that the truth must be told. It is important for me to clear all misconceptions and answer questions that may not be asked by those concerned of the events during my journey.
    My intent was never to solve this in a public forum. For 3 years I attempted to do it the right way, address issues privately and hope we all learn and grow with the experience. Everyone who needed to be involved was but yet when the final door was closed I found myself isolated with nowhere else to go.
    So why did I continue my journey hoping that there would be a happy ending. It is simple. I did what any father who adored his daughter or any husband that loved and respected his wife would do; I defended them. It was not done for vindication or to seek justice. My decisions were based on fact and not emotion. I never thought this would happen to me but it has to happen to someone; do not let it be you.
    But something good happened along the way. My family not only became closer but stronger. We realized that the only thing important to us were the 3 individuals sitting with each other each night. No one would destroy that bond even for personal reasons.
    I also learned that after almost 30 years of marriage my wife was the same person I met and fell in love with. She is honest, caring, and involved with wonderful causes. She is the friend everyone wants to have. Her only fault is she attempts to see the best in people an easy virtue to take advantage of. It is easy to see how she was misled, especially with someone who insinuated they had so much involvement in our daughters well-being.
    My daughter was somehow forgotten along the way. Time after time she was placed in difficult situations but survived thru the support of those around her who accepted and loved her for who she is. She is now thriving and full of confidence. I am proud of them both.
    But there is another reason for my response. Along the way I learned that contrary to the opinions of others, sometimes in high level positions you cannot judge a book by its cover. Any decision on the honesty and validity of someone’s intent must be a decision you make on your own. Do not let others influence your decisions.
    Let me explain. When every door within the Lakota decision makers closed I was alone with nowhere to go. My wife brought Rich Hoffman’s name to me and stated he seemed to be someone to contact. If I would have believed what people were saying I would still be alone. Ironically the people saying things were the same ones who closed doors on me.
    I contacted Rich and when he realized this was a family issue he and his wife Wendy opened their home to me. Meeting as strangers they listened and understood. There have been personal conversations and support which are special will remain with us. That is why we are friends. His blog articles were not written for personal gain or to support an agenda. That has nothing to do with our friendship. His goal remains my goal: to simply protect my family, a quality only those who care can have. I would venture to say he would do the same for any family who needed a platform to protect those dear to them. He cares about his family, his friends and his community. Why should we chastise or denounce someone who has an agenda that is factual and is offering a choice for our community. You may not like his style or presentation style but please listen to the message. I have and believe it has a place in our community. Solve it in a public forum and let the taxpayers decide. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain; I am living proof of that.
    I have never mentioned names or the many facts gathered during these 3 years. My hope is the members of this fine community would ask them or at least search out the facts. Hopefully you will. I am here now as a resource simply because I believe Lakota is special because of its students, the parents who are their advocates and believers. We should not let rogue teachers prevent us from acknowledging the teachers who do it for the right reason. Like you they are the life mentors that our children need. Lakota’s biggest loss is Ron Spurlock. He is the one administrator who told me many times “he understands because he is a parent”. He always asked how my daughter was. That should be our model. As far as the others I will let the taxpayers decide. I spend no more time on a lost cause. If you disagree or do not understand just search for the facts and/or answers and if you still disagree or have questions you now know how to contact me. I leave you with this: make sure you are confident in those who control your educational and financial destiny. Do not give your money to strangers.
    Thank you to those who listened. Many of you taught me what is good in this life. So I close with a quote from someone who I deeply respect, “It’s all good”
    a grateful friend.

    Like

    1. Thanks. People care even though “they” make you believe that there is something wrong with you for expecting excellence. Excellence is more than just wearing around the designation like a blue ribben given to a kid who stole it out of the box. We actually expect the performance. That’s what they don’t understand.

      Like

      1. Thus being told by many that his “expectations” are too high?
        Since when is it wrong to have high expectations? Has society dumbed down that much?
        Mmm, just answered my own question…..

        Like

      2. Yes you did, which is very sad. I do have high expectations, and so does every tax payer. We are right to expect it because we expect it from ourselves. But the money grabbers are clearly not up to the task, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried to bury these stories. They would have done as we stated, at least addressed them. But not to run off and hide everything under a rug then ask for more tax money to buy more rugs!

        Like

  2. Excellent analogy. You know, I dont get it–you would think people would be beating down the doors, trying find out where this “rogue” teacher was transferred and why this behavior was tolerated. And the fact that a young teen committed suicide and there was essentially a media blackout….. Things that make you go hmmmmm……

    Like

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