Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mother Keeps Bullied Daughter Home from Woodrow Wilson

(Photo of Monique McClain printed with permission and consent of her mother.)

After appealing repeatedly to the Board of Education for some resolution to what she says is an ongoing bullying problem, Alycia McClain, supported by her own mother Alexa McClain has decided to keep her 7th-grade daughter Monique home from school.  McClain has requested that the administration and the Board of Education provide an alternative learning situation, in the form of a tutor, for her daughter.

"I understand that Tutor(s) can be made available to a student who can no longer attend Middletown Public School," McClain wrote in a letter to the Board and Frechette.  "I want that avenue of education made available to my Daughter immediately."

McClain, who has appeared before the BOE before, documented several instances where her daughter was physically bullied and taunted on a regular basis by a growing contingent of bullies recruited by a ringleader.  McClain noted that Wilson principal Charles Marqua and Vice Principal Diane Niles have acknowledged the problem and have administered "detentions and suspension to the offending bullies" but that these measures have not prevented the ongoing harassment.

"My daughter feels extremely isolated, depressed and targeted while fearing for her safety everyday," McClain said.

Monique McClain herself stood before the Board and tearfully read a statement which declared the fear she feels while at school.

In a package presented to the board, Alycia McClain provided strong evidence of cyberbullying in the form of a Facebook post targeted at her daughter.

(In full disclosure, I spoke at the BOE meeting is support of the young woman, and read the following cyber threat into the public record).

This threat appeared on Facebook signed with the name of the young woman who has allegedly harassed McClain:

"I Fucking Hate Yhu Withh All My Heart, Yhur a Bitchh & I Just Wannaa Like Uqhhh,  Yhur a Fucking Snitch & I Just Wanna Like Beat Yhu The Fuck Up The More Yhu Keep Snitching on Me in School, The Moree It Makes Me Tougher, All Yhu Doo Is Tell Yhur Lil Short Ass Mom Like She gunnaa Do Something, Yeahh Okay Probably Just Bring Me To Court Butt IDCC, Keep On Imma Show Ya Something:  The More Yhu Keep Snitching The More Imma Keep Wanting to Fight Yhu &+ When I Doo Imma Demolish Yhu, Yhu H"

The police where shown the threat and expressed willingness to charge the harasser, but Monique McClain asked not to press charges, fearing reprisals.

Principal Marqua, who spoke about extracurricular programs at the meeting, including an extracurricular anti-bullying student group, declined to talk about the bullying incident beyond indicating that he, and the school are following the anti-bullying guidelines published by the district.

"It just does not work in every instance," Marqua said of the policy. He indicated that because new and different students were harassing McClain over the course of months it was difficult to stem the problem.  "They (McClain's mother and grandmother) complain, and we address the complaints."

When asked if he felt Monique McClain was being punished twice, once by the bullies, and another by a system which can't protect her, Marqua said he couldn't answer because the situation involved underage students.

"I don't think we should talk anymore," Marqua said.

According to Alycia McClain, in a phone conversation on January 27, Superintendent of Schools Michael Frechette said that he didn't believe there were other educational options outside of the school for her daughter.

McClain also provided the BOE with a report from her daughter's psychological counselor who indicated that it was her opinion  "that an alternate placement for Monique's schooling be found so that she can learn in a safe environment."

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

I praise this loving mother who takes action to protect her daughter rather than depend on the school to remove the the threat. This is exactly the sort of situation that has ended in extreme violence in schools where insufficient action was taken. I was the victim of bullying when I was a young girl (decades ago!) and I still feel the pain and shame and fear and helplessness. I was afraid to speak up - I never told my parents - and the school did NOTHING even though they could see what was happening. Detentions and suspensions will not stop the bullies. They need to be expellend and, in this case where physical violence is threatened, they need to face criminal charges. They are a threat to the safety of the school, therefore they should be removed. Why does the girl have to give up school when she is doing nothing wrong? My heart aches for this girl and her family. She will do better when she is out of school, though in effect, she bears the punishment, not the bullies. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Where are these bullies parents? The language is totally unacceptable and the threats are outragous! First of all if I EVER heard or saw my child using language like that, they would not go out of the house for months, and they would have no access to a computer let alone FB. These parents names should be public information. I would not let my children go near them or their children. Garbage, pure garbage. I believe this woman did the right thing to protect her daughter, but I think she should have done it sooner. No one deserves to be taunted like that. Who the hell do these kids think they are?

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with anonymous 5:56. Good luck to this mom who actually takes an active role in her child's well being.
Hopefully the board can assist them further.

Mean people suck.

Anonymous said...

Take this to court and get a restraining order. Let the legal system do what the school system cannot do. Press charges. Please!

David Santacroce said...

Unfortunately this is the result of years of inaction and placating bullies teaching might does make right. It is an outrage that our school administrators are so weak and ineffective as to faciliate driving a student from school. What weak people. Have the guts to arrest and prosecute these young criminals. Don't sit on your degrees or so delude yourselves that inaction is action. Perhaps the Mayor is correct as regards public school adminstrators; corrupt and ineffective placeholders whose only interest is running a patronage pool. This is misfeasance at its highest.

Alexa M McClain said...

I'm sure that my Daughter, Alycia will comment later; but for now, let me say thank you for all your written support.

As far as "should have done it sooner" posted at 8:27am, with all respect let me respond.

Search "Bully" here and you will find Ed's first article about our plight. We actually started this in September with reports. I have spoken before the BOE on three occassions. The Chain of Command is tedious at best but we needed to do this properly for Monique's sake. Our contacts number 20+.

We are waiting for copies of the MANY Police reports filed, some being still open and active. Our journey to secure a safe education for Monique is far from over. But for right now, she is safe ...and still completing her assignments at home.

Thank you all again for your support. It really does give us added strength in our quest to end this educational travesty of my Granddaughter.

By the way, Monique is a recipient of the "Presidential Award for Academic Achievement".
She truly is a wonderful child.
**and a brave one at that!

Sincerely,
Gramma

Alexa M McClain said...

To Mr Santacroce:

I must give credit to our Mayor.
Back in September, Mayor Guiliano was instrumental in putting us on the right track. While speaking with him he recognized the severity immediately and called in 'Acting' Chief McMahon who then spoke with us.

Chief McMahon and his team of Officers have been completely supportive, responding right away when called upon. And at least when SRO Puorro was at WWMS, Monique had some sense of 'back-up'.

Thank you...again

Disgusted Parent said...

Residents of the United States expect the police to protect them from threats of bodily harm. They have certain rights, and an expectation that they will be enforced.

The fact that a person attends a public school does not remove those rights, any more than attending a public school removes the responsibility of the person making the criminal threats.

It is a very sad situation if the school is unable to maintain an environment where the rule of law is upheld. But if this is the case, the city should step in to uphold the law. Police should act upon those reports immediately.

It is a shame this child has to depend on her family for protection the school and police should have already provided.
Kudos to the mother and grandmother for going beyond the call of duty to go through all of the bureaucratic steps to get this case heard. No family should have to do this, and no child should have to live in fear for her safety in a public building.

Anonymous said...

Well, well, well, another fine example of the public school education system. Can't spell,and swears like a trooper. I totally agree with what others have posted here, where are the parents? They need to be made aware, and if need be, charged with harassment if they can't get their children under control. The school adminstrators, need to expell or, as I like to call it, inact the 2 foot rule, if they're not allowed to expell the bully. The bully is within 2 feet of the principal at all times during school. I know,
I know, poor poor principal, but maybe they need to see the conscequences of turning a blind eye to the situation, and be made to suffer just as this girl has had to do. I also have access to a group who makes large donations to the Anti Bullying Campaign, and will recommend they stop, because it isn't working, and won't work until the school systems begin to expell children who are the root of the problem.

Anonymous said...

The child being bullied could consider a transfer to a magnet school such as Thomas Edison, rather than staying at home with a tutor. A change of school could give her a new start.

Anonymous said...

This is a great article and something for parents to talk to their children about. It is also something the school might want to consider. http://www.mywesttexas.com/top_stories/article_7ae158e1-f138-5d13-b507-27157c9c53cc.html

Laura Wilson said...

I agree that maybe a different school is in order, but there is the question of transportation. Is it provided? It would be tough on a parent to have to drive to and from these schools every day, as I believe there are none close to Middletown. I am saddened for this young girl. I was too a product of bullying, never to the extent she is going through, and let me tell you it is no picnic. I fear for these children as they suffer, and sometimes with the belief that it will never change. We hear of children being killed and taking their own lives over this. That seems to be when we really pay attention. I hope this young women makes it through this fine and she will realize what a strong, smart and wonderful person she is! These horrible people that are doing this to her, will pay the price someday. What comes around goes around and they will be judged!

Anonymous said...

First, to Monique, her mom and her grandmother, I'm so sorry this is happening to your child. Please know that this "village" won't stand for this in our school.

Your daughter should feel safe in school and in my opinion should be assigned a security officer to ensure her safety so that she doesn't get punished by having to stay at home while bullies run around WMMS.

WMS is OUR school and my daughter's at risk every day that this situation isn't handled. All of our children are at risk in a school that's not dealing assertively with bullies. The longer they're allowed to persist the more they're emboldened and the higher the probability that this will escalate to physical violence. It's not just Middletown - look around, Google bullying and see how common it is.

The challenge I have is that there's an answer here and we're not talking about it. Our kids, the ones who are NOT bullies, need to help Monique and surround her so that there are more of them in her corner. We need to TEACH kids to become allies. We need to ASK teachers to report every incident they see, even if it's a pain and takes time, so that the bullies learn there's no tolerance for bullying. The kids need to LEAVE THEIR CELL PHONES in their lockers - they do not need to do Facebook during the day. They have too much technology at their disposal and clearly some should be studying spelling and basic English instead.

It's a process. Teaching kids to do the right thing, to be brave and take a stand starts with LEADERSHIP from adults.

Without being melodramatic, I implore our officials to act before there's a murder or a suicide. If you're overwhelmed with the problem, bring in help! The ADL's anti-bulling programs are excellent. There are a ton of other organizations that focus solely on bullying here in CT.
Ask for help. Ask the kids.

Hope bullying stops, but.... said...

curious about what people think of the idea of teaching the girl physical strength training and how to punch. I am sure everyone agrees that violence is not a solution, and abuse and violence shouldn't be answered with more of the same, and she shouldn't be asked to stoop to the level of the bully who is harassing her. But in this extreme case, one really hard hitting punch could stop it for good. In fact I challenge you to think about how you'd feel if the students in this scenario were boys. Isnt it expected that they will fight and stand up for themselves. The girl needs to learn how to defend herself for now and her future. What if this escalates and the bully physically attacks her first? It would be good for her to have some training in how to fight back. I really am interested in hearing the bullied student's mothers thoughts on this. Its not ideal, but like I said, maybe she really does the power inside herself to put a stop to this, physically, if she were taught how.

Anonymous said...

I feel for this student. It makes me furious and sad that no one in the school system is doing anything--they NEED to, morally and legally!

While obviously, the priority right now is keeping this child safe, both physically and emotionally and that is the reason for educating her at home, I do not believe that is the right thing for her long term (although, I do want to be clear, I COMPLETELY understand why this is the choice). This is a child that has clearly shown, by her award, to benefit and most likely enjoy education. It seems keeping her home to educate her is punishing her instead of the bullies, removing her from access to the regular curriculum and social activities, while the bullies are allowed these privileges. She should not be the one punished.

This young woman is lucky to have such a supportive group of people around her and I commend Mr. McKeon for following up on this situation. Unfortunately, I am sure this is not the only case going on.

To the mother or grandmother, you have done so much already, but have you contacted anyone at the CT State Department of Education. There is someone there in charge of bullying. If you have not gone above the town level, I would recommend it.

Monique, I commend you for being so brave and sharing your story in such a public way. You are helping others. Best of luck in everything and keep up the hard work.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to this young girl and her family. The Middletown Board of Ed and school administrators have botched this completely. I know we all hate to raise the budget, but in this case the board should provide the money to send this intelligent, brave and promising young girl to the private school of her choice.

CultureCreature (Richard B. Kamins) said...

One of the problems is how to deal with "bullies." What is the punishment? Make them watch hours of Holocaust footage or the shameless actions of people in the South during the 1950s. It is past time to make the offending students pay for their actions, to "out" them, publish their pictures in the paper or on THE EYE, invite them to tell their story to the public. It's easy to hide behind the anonymity of the Internet but I understand Ms. McClain knows her persecutors. It is just over a year since Phoebe Prince, an high school student in Massachusetts, committed suicide. Her persecutors, four girls and two boys, face charges including statutory rape, assault, violation of civil rights resulting in injury, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly and stalking. Three younger girls face delinquency charges.
Let the bullies know they can't win and the Administration that there are many things they can do.

Anonymous said...

To "Disgusted parent" who wrote: "It is a very sad situation if the school is unable to maintain an environment where the rule of law is upheld. But if this is the case, the city should step in to uphold the law. Police should act upon those reports immediately." The BOE is hamstrung when it comes to maintaining the kind of environment we want in our schools. By that I mean that there are more laws that protect the students who bully than there are laws that protect the victims -or for that matter, the teachers. When violence happens at school, thre is little the school can do about it. Expulsion is not something that can be done on a principal's whim. It's a legal act that requires due process, involving lawyers, hearings, etc. - and often cannot be done at all. Yes, there are laws against bullying, but they are written to protect citizens from being falsely accused. The level of evidence required is high - as one can see by the comments made by this young lady's grandmother. They have been WAITING for action since fall, but even the police can't do anything quickly here.

The best solution is that suggested by a number of these comments - let the parents of the bullies be responsible. Anyone who posts such outrageous and filthy material on FB should understand they have given up a right to "privacy" and see their names and their parents names published where they will do the most damage.

Anonymous said...

I am glad to see people supporting this young girl and her family. I think that it is time that we show Dr. Frechette and The Board of Education that the community is behind Monique and her family. I encourage everyone to write a letter to all the members of the Board Of Education and let them know that you are horrified that this has been happening in our schools and you expect them to make reasonable accommodations so that Monique can be educated in a place where she feels safe.

Unfortunately at this point in the year Monique's only viable option seems to be a tutor.

Again, I encourage everyone to channel their outrage into action and let the Board know that we won't stand for anything other than an appropriate solution for Monique.

William Scott said...

The parents of the bullies should be held accountable for the actions of their children. If they cannot act properly in school then maybe they should be removed. Then put into a program that will deal with their issues. The parents should have to pay for this. As it should not cost the taxpayers in the City of Middletown a dime.

This is the only way the parents and the bullies will learn in my opinion.

Hang in there Monique. You have many people here who back you 100%.

Anonymous said...

to the McLain family....I'm sorry I didn't know this has been going on since September. You must be beside yourself, as I, too, would be. This beauracracy is absurd. No one should be harrassed and taunted without immediate action. When a child did something to my child I immediately called the parents and it was dealt with. What is the response from these childrens parents? I agree that the parents need to be held accountable. They need to get a handle on this, but, I can just imagine....they could care less. You have alot of support here...keep on fighting for your family. We are with you with our prayers. God bless you and your family.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that this poor girl's situation has been exploited by her family and the Eye. If my daughter was getting this kind of vile comments on Facebook, I'd cancel her account. They may mean well, but they are making a bad situation worse.

Anonymous said...

I support the mother and everything she is doing. It is painfully obvious that the bully who wrote this letter is a victim of poor parenting herself. She will no doubt grow up to be a cruel person who does nothing to benefit this society. Press charges on the future criminal and expidite her miserable future. Its a shame so much energy has to be spent on how to deal with such a burden to society. Instead of trying to come up with ways to relocate the good people, get rid of this kid. She doesn't deserve the freedom she deprives others of. Figure out what to do with the trash!! She signed the god damned letter. Remove her. She lost her chance.

try2doitall said...

I am also a parent of a child who had a miserable and viciously horrible time while attending Middletowns middle school system. Innumerable "discussions" with teachers, administrators, guidance, police, parents, students, and more did nothing to alleviate the situation. Quoting chapter and verse their own policies and procedures - that they NEVER followed - garnered further frustration, harassment, and no consequences for the culprits. The physical, psychological, emotional, cyber, sexual, and telephone bullying continued. Police report after police report, school incident report after school incident report, meeting after meeting.

Thankfully we were blessed to win the lottery and remove both of my children from a situation that has left my daughter scarred psychologically and emotionally - yet another thing the district fails to take responsibility for and has cost me thousands of dollars in treatment for PTSD, depression and more.

I would not wish our experience on anyone and yet I know there are many more children out there who are going through the same thing we did. My heart goes out to this family and all the others too.
I love my adopted hometown but I am saddened too that I have to admit that all of the horror stories about Middletown schools are true - you can send your kids to elementary school here but get them out before middle school or be prepared for the worst case scenario.

And do not expect the system to help you - they are just as bad, if not worse than the bullies themselves, because they are being paid by you to torment you by not doing their jobs to keep our children safe.

My kids were lucky to get out - will it take a child taking his/her life for the town, the BOE, and the district to sit up and take notice? Will we have to make national headline before Frechette and the BOE will admit there is a problem they do not have a handle on? Will it take a school shooting before actions are taken to protect our kids?

Anonymous said...

I'm disgusted! I'm reading everyones support for taking the victim of bullying out of the school!!! Remove the bullies!! No tolerance policy!! If they mention an act of violence against the school they have to leave! Why would anyone stand for this??? What's wrong with everyone?? Wake up!! Or maybe let's just give the bullies the authority! Just put them in charge! Let the bullies figure out what THEY'RE GOING TO DO!!

Alexa M McClain said...

I am overwhelmed by the support from all of you. So many of you have shown such keen insight and plain common sense, even when laced with sarcasm to build the strength of your message.
I will try to respond briefly to several points made:

*Thomas Edison Magnet: Alycia was told by TE that Dr Frechette is the one who handles that. When asked, Dr Frechette told Alycia "There are no options"... Other Magnets are only by Lottery and many do NOT take in students mid-year.

*Emboldened: You are absolutely right! Had this been taken care of in September when we complained and pleaded, I doubt that the bullies would now have the hard contempt they hold for authority.

*Chain of Command still growing but Dr Joanne Freidberg of the CT ST Dept of Ed has been sent many documents and an appt will be made. I have already spoken with Gov Malloy in the past and am waiting for another response.

*'One good punch': Monique is a respected student of the Lion's Den Boxing Team. She knows the power of her punch but she chooses not to use it outside the facility.

*Tutoring: This is only meant to be a temporary fix until we and/or the BOE can secure another school.

*Security Guard: Monique did feel that she had a 'back-up' when SRO Puorro was at WWMS. As you know, the SRO's were removed and WWMS did not get one back.

*Charges: Numerous charges have been filed. The MPD have been right there for us. So was the Mayor. They do what they can but the system is a maze ... and it's worse when they are Juveniles.

*Removal of Bullies: We pleaded to have them expelled, suspended, etc. Did you know that as of last year suspensions MUST be held IN school?..per a new law ONLY "In School Suspension" aka "ISS".

*Parents: One parent was so appalled by the child's actions that she is no longer a bully. Another parent was in denial with an attitude. Alycia decided to let the Police contact the rest.

*Exploitation: I'm sorry you feel that way. We have done everything possible to keep this out of the media. The "Eye" is not quite as big as the New York Post or even Oprah...though at this point our Family will expose the truth in whatever manner necessary. As you can see, we don't even write via "Anonymous"...never have... and we never will. This issue is NOT just about Monique, though she happens to be the little soldier on the front lines for today. It will hopefully help the child who has no voice.

*The 2ft Rule (loved it): When I was in school, the disruptive student had to sit only right in front of each teacher and had a monitor walk them to classes. Maybe the school's 'teacher/pupil' ration wouldn't allow that based on the number of bullies......
which leads me to this:

My Daughter, Alycia, has limited access to a computer but I read your comments to her. She was overcome by your support as I was. She will be posting her thoughts as soon as she can.

In the meantime, Alycia wants me to update you .... Apparently, 'someone' saw the BOE broadcast and 'someone' saw Monique on TV. The number of active bullies instantly grew in the school hallways from 9 to 11. And the word is that they are seething with hatred for Monique because she 'snitched' again.

If I missed a point, please forgive me. I do get confused. But I'm sure we have covered them all. Let me know if I am wrong.

Thanks to all of you again.
Gramma

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Dear Anon, Feb 9 7:26 PM:

You have an odd notion of exploitation.

We have a school administration and a BOE who can't or won't do anything to prevent a serious bullying situation.

We have bullies exploiting weak regulations.

And you dare accuse a family, looking desperately for a solution, of exploitation. As for the Eye, we're simply trying to report what we see so that the situation gets better. We would somehow have to be profiting from the pain to be accused of exploitation. See the Middletown Press for that.

Madam Nirvana said...

Monique & Grandma- please don't give up on the Middletown Public School system- even though right now it looks like they have in fact failed you. There are positive experiences to come in high school. Middle school is the worst, kids are no doubt brutal! I graduated MHS in 2002. By high school, one of many positive aspects is students are grouped by effort and interests- chances are you won't even have many classes with the bullying students. Student with their degenerate behavior- and from the grammar sample in the online message- lack of effort to function within society & educate themselves even with simple spelling- won't take the challenging & interesting classes you will want too. If they don't change, which at this point who knows, they will do what they need to do to get by to graduate by the skin of their teeth, and that's it. You might pass them in the halls briefly, but it's doubtful with so many students- By high school people self segregate as they figure out who they are more. Like attracts like and don't forget that. You will be with peers like yourself who are driven toward success, and get to be involved in extra curricular activities that will nurture your interests,all the while you may find your bullies just hang out on the streets, fall into drugs, or simply fail out. Even the word snitch has the connotation of either being used by 7 year old children calling one another snitch and tattle tale , or drug dealers, that doesn't speak well of the maturity level or characters of this bullies. They are most likely in someway jealous of the smart and nice person you are. In ways maybe pity for them is correct, because they will be left in the dust by you and their peers very soon. I'm not saying its easy to go through what you are going through, but remember the best revenge is living well-
Please contact if you wish to speak more-

Anonymous said...

this makes me feel so bad to know that this has happened to this little girl i just have to say stay strong and u guys should have the bullies watch this nd see how much pain they have put monique through. this school should really thinkk about doing what

Anonymous said...

I saw it happen with my girlfriend and her daughter. Her daughter was afraid to go to school. My girlfriend went to the school and spoke to the principle who informed her that outside school grounds there was little he could do. So she did the next best thing and spoke to the bully's mother. When she notice a few days later that the bullying didn't stop she went straight to the bully's mother and got her point across. Trust me she wasn't as nice as the first visit. Did the bullying stop? Yes it did.