Un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Stu­dents walk out of classes to protest bul­ly­ing, school’s re­sponse

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON

A bul­ly­ing episode at Glace Bay High is now un­der po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

A video posted to Face­book shows a young woman walk­ing over to Brett Cor­bett, a 14-yearold male stu­dent with cere­bral palsy, who lay face-down in an area of shal­low wa­ter bor­der­ing Glace Bay High. About 30 stu­dents watched, laughed and recorded the event while one per­son threw a rock at him. The in­ci­dent oc­curred Tues­day, Nov. 6.

A spokesper­son for the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion said on Fri­day af­ter­noon they were look­ing into it.

“We are tak­ing the in­ci­dent that hap­pened at Glace Bay High se­ri­ously,” said Michelle Ma­cLeod, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer with the board. “This is un­ac­cept­able and very dis­ap­point­ing be­hav­iour. This type of be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated and is not one that the School and the Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion is proud of.

“Both the school ad­min­is­tra­tion and re­gional of­fice are presently in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent in ac­cor­dance with the School Code of Con­duct pol­icy. Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent.”

About 20 stu­dents walked out of classes at the high school on Fri­day af­ter­noon to protest the in­ci­dent and what they say is a lack of ac­tion in com­bat­ing a se­ri­ous prob­lem with bul­ly­ing at the school.

“The school likes to sweep ev­ery­thing un­der the rug and pre­tend that it didn’t hap­pen,” said Kenna MacKin­non, 18, a Grade 12 stu­dent who helped or­ga­nize the protest. “So, we’re just here to stand up for what’s right and be the voice for all the kids that don’t have one.”

Stu­dents like Bri­anna Marr, 18, a Grade 12 stu­dent, say the school isn’t do­ing enough to pre­vent and end bul­ly­ing at the school.

“I feel that the school should be do­ing way more than they’re do­ing,” she said. “They sus­pended them for only one day. What does that do? They get to not go to school for one day and not do work. They get to sleep in. And then that boy has to deal with that for the rest of his life. He’s the one who got walked on, laughed at and video­taped. And ev­ery­one thinks it’s funny. And no­body wants to do any­thing about it — they think it’s stupid that we walked out of the school for him and no­body else did it but the peo­ple who ac­tu­ally care. It’s a sin.”

The Cape Bre­ton Post could not get con­fir­ma­tion that the stu­dents had ac­tu­ally been sus­pended. Ad­min­is­tra­tion at Glace Bay High was con­tacted for a re­sponse to the is­sue. A re­turn email said to for­ward all ques­tions to the school board’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Michelle Ma­cLeod.

“We wouldn’t be able to speak on sus­pen­sions, but to re­veal if they are de­nied or con­firmed, be­cause of pri­vacy is­sues,” said Ma­cLeod.

“As part of our con­tin­ued ef­forts to ed­u­cate stu­dents we will be work­ing with school ad­min­is­tra­tion to fa­cil­i­tate on­go­ing ed­u­ca­tion re­gard­ing the im­por­tance of re­spect­ful and re­spon­si­ble re­la­tion­ships and be­hav­iour and the pos­si­ble school and le­gal con­se­quences of un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour.”

Some of the stu­dents in­volved in the protest, like Grade 12 stu­dent Chloe McNeil, 17, said they were con­cerned about how the mat­ter was be­ing han­dled.

“The way the school is han­dling this is ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous — I was just told in class that I’m not al­lowed to talk about the sit­u­a­tion,” she said. “I don’t think that’s right ei­ther. Peo­ple should know what hap­pened — they should know that the school does take part in this and they’re not han­dling it the way it should be han­dled.”

“Hon­estly, it’s sick­en­ing,” said Grade 11 stu­dent Ethan Fletcher, 17, who agreed with the other stu­dents that bul­ly­ing is a ma­jor prob­lem at the school. “They got up­set at us for walk­ing out. They did not agree with it. They said nor­mal classes were still tak­ing place and we should join them. It’s a lit­tle up­set­ting to see noth­ing be­ing done about it.”

One stu­dent who didn’t wish to be iden­ti­fied said some­thing needs to be done so stu­dents like Cor­bett aren’t fur­ther vic­tim­ized.

“I feel bad for him,” said the fe­male stu­dent about the bul­lied stu­dent. “Things get swept un­der the rug at this school. The ad­min­is­tra­tion doesn’t do enough.”

In ad­di­tion to the stu­dents’ walk­out, con­cerned res­i­dents are or­ga­niz­ing a “stop bul­ly­ing “rally in the com­mu­nity for some­time next week. Peo­ple will be meet­ing to­day, 11 a.m., at the Un­der­cur­rent Youth Cen­tre, 224 York St., to or­ga­nize the event.

EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON/CAPE BRE­TON POST

A group of stu­dents walked out of classes at Glace Bay High on Fri­day af­ter­noon to protest bul­ly­ing at the school and the school’s re­sponse to a re­cent in­ci­dent.

MacKin­non

EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON/CAPE BRE­TON POST

The sign at the en­trance to Glace Bay High. A bul­ly­ing episode at the school is un­der po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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