Child pulled from school over bullying
Kris Talaro says Madison schools talk big about anti-harassment policies and zero tolerance for threats but "back up the talk with almost no action."
On May 14, the Madison mom pulled her daughter out of second grade at Schenk Elementary on Madison's east side, citing persistent bullying and what she felt was an inadequate response. "You have fallen well short of your responsibility," she wrote the principal, Emmett Durtschi.
Talaro says her daughter was "tormented" by other students, to where she often came home crying. She was made fun of for her name and for her clothes. One boy "threatened to bash her head in with a rock." Talaro says she and her husband and daughter all asked school officials to intervene, to no avail. At one point, Talaro says, the girl was admonished to "stop tattletaling" on other kids. She thinks schools officials "are afraid to enforce the rules."
Durtschi, in a written reply to Talaro, expressed regret and offered to "work together with the classroom teacher to resolve this." But Talaro said she had lost confidence in school officials and stuck with her decision. As of the end of classes this week, her daughter will have missed 21 days of instruction; she's enrolled to attend a different elementary school next fall.
While unable to discuss specific cases, Durtschi tells Isthmus that "in the public schools, bullying is always an issue," one that receives much attention. The primary focus is on prevention, but appropriate consequences are imposed in more serious situations. Sometimes, though, confidentiality rules prevent school officials from telling parents what has been done to children other than their own.
What would Durtschi do in a case, say, where one student threatened to bash in another's head with a rock? "I don't want to answer questions that are hypothetical like that."
The problem, for the Talaros, is that such questions are not hypothetical.