Middle school students face expulsion for bullying; charges filed
SIBLEY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Saturday, the Sibley-Ocheyeden School Board will decide whether to expel two middle students.
That's after they were accused of bullying a fellow classmate.
The boy's parents say it started when their son's friend was allegedly assaulted inside the boy's bathroom.
He told the principal, and that's when his teammates turned on him, they said.
"In small schools, everyone sees someone walking into the principal's and everyone knew who it was," explained Amber Taylor, the mother of the boy allegedly bullied.
"They were walking up and down the halls of the school, constantly calling him gay," added the teen's father, Tom Taylor.
He said the taunting escalated over several weeks. Then, during an away game in Rock Rapids, the 8th grade football players were waiting on the bus for the 7th grade game to get over. The coaches, who also drove the bus, were on the field, coaching the younger players. No supervision.
"One boy pinned my son down, and that boy told the other boy to put his genitals in my son's face. Another boy was instructed to take the picture. The caption on the picture says our son's name, being raped," Tom recalled.
"It didn't take long for that picture to get back to Sibley. By the time their son got off the bus, he was already being teased by other teens.
"Some of the 8th grade girls, went up to him and asked how the left side of his cheek felt," the boy told his parents.
"Is this really happening," thought Amber. "It's your child and you want to protect them. Your thought is protecting them from the boogie man. But, not expecting that you have to protect them from other kids," she said through tears.
"To me, this is more than boys will be boys," added Tom.
Their son, a straight-A student involved in football, basketball, track, band, and choir didn't fight back because he didn't want to be suspended. And, he didn't tell his parents. Instead a friend sent mom a text message alerting her to what happened.
"I showed him the text and said hey buddy you've got to talk to somebody, whether it's me, or your dad, or somebody else, you have to talk to somebody," she recalled.
Two female classmates alerted school officials. Three boys were suspended. One is already back at school and has apologized. Authorities discouraged both the victim's family, and the suspects' families from reaching out to one another because of the pending investigation.
The other two boys were suspended for ten days, and could be allowed back on Monday, depending on a decision by the Sibley-Ocheyedan school board, Saturday.
"He's concerned that if they are allowed back in school, does everything change," said Tom.
But, even if the boys are allowed back, they face a more serious situation.
"We are definitely investigating this as a bullying situation," said Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep, whose office is investigating because the alleged incident happened in his jurisdiction, not Osceola County.
Vander Stoep said Friday that the county had begun filing charges against all three boys. Two will be charged with assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. There's also a charge of joint criminal conduct, and dissemination of obscene material. The third boy is being charged with simple assault.
"It is disturbing and it's very disappointing to see," said Vander Stoep, who as a DARE officer, focuses on bullying prevention in schools.
The Taylor family said they can't take back what happened, but they can take a stand to prevent it from ever happening again at their son's school. And, they're encouraging the public to stand with them.
"If you've had a kid bullied, if you've seen bullying, if you just want it to stop, if you have young kids coming up and you hear this story, come show your support," added Tom.
The school board meeting starts at nine a.m. Saturday, in the Sibley-Ocheyedan Media Center. A portion will be open to the public.
Several school board members we spoke to said they were told to refer all media questions to Superintendent Bill Boer. The superintendent's office referred us to the school district's attorney, who did not return our call.
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