Students walk out of classes to protest bullying, school’s response
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.
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.
The sign at the entrance to Glace Bay High. A bullying episode at the school is under police investigation.