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Frustrated Parents Confront Vallejo School Board Over Bullying

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Parents who said their children have been harassed repeatedly pack a school board meeting in Vallejo on January 9, 2013. (CBS)

Parents who said their children have been harassed repeatedly pack a school board meeting in Vallejo on January 9, 2013. (CBS)

VALLEJO (CBS 5) — Angry parents seized control of a school board meeting in Vallejo Wednesday night, saying their children have been bullied and neither the schools nor the district are responding to their complaints.

Almost four hours into an extended school board meeting, frustrated parents couldn’t take it any more.

“We want to be heard,” Trini Lopez said. “We’ve been waiting here all night.”

The regular agenda was put on hold and families of bullied students finally got their chance to talk.

Related Coverage:
More Vallejo Parents Say District Not Responding To Bullying
Vallejo Students Accuse School Of Ignoring Bullying Complaints

“You guys are in denial, plain and simple,” said Ladonna Williams. She said her daughter’s brutal beating at Hogan Middle School, caught on cellphone, was not taken seriously.

In an interview with CBS 5, the district even suggested such cellphone attacks are staged. “Usually, almost always there are students who help arrange it,” the district’s Latonya Derbigny said.

Williams, who watched the interview, was shocked. “How dare you! My child was attacked from behind,” she said.

Trini Lopez told the board her daughter Victoria was also viciously attacked at Hogan. “It took two months for you guys to apologize to me. It took two months for someone to get a hold of me.”

Then Patricia Hartzell spoke in front of the board. “My daughter Autumn is in 5th grade at Cooper Elementary. She has been bullied since she started there. She is in therapy for wanting to kill herself. She’s 10.”

“Nothing is being done, where is the supervision? There’s no supervision,” said Mary Whitney, whose 11-year-old daughter Samantha also attends Cooper Elementary. “You know what the solution is? Our girls are kept in the office during lunch and recess. You are telling my daughter it’s not safe. And where are these boys that are bullying my daughter? Outside playing basketball.”

Whitney said school officials bragged about lowering expulsion rates, but that’s a big part of the problem. “You are saying the numbers are down. At what cost? The cost of our children that are being bullied.”

Samantha also spoke out. “I am 11, in the 5th grade, and I have been bullied in the past two years by the same two bullies,” she said. “And I am doing this because I want someone to hear out that we went to multiple meetings, we went to my principal, teachers, and I just feel like everything is pushed aside.”

As Samantha broke down in tears and left with her mother, Superintendent Dr. Ramona Bishop promised a forum on bullying will be held soon. “We apologize if you feel that we were trying to ignore you or anything like that we sincerely apologize for that,” Bishop said.

Data CBS 5 obtained from police showed 1,300 calls to Vallejo schools in the past year and a half. Parents believe the high numbers are directly related to bullying.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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