Communities demand changes from Vinton County Board of Education following August attacks

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Communities demand changes from Vinton County Board of Education following August attacks

Author: Caitlin Thorne

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MacArthur, Ohio (WOUB) – The Vinton County Board of Education faced outrage from the community at its monthly meeting Tuesday. attack in august Portrait of a black freshman by a white student at Vinton County High School.

The student’s father, Aric Bledsoe, said on August 23 that his 15-year-old daughter was verbally harassed twice by a fellow female student in order to get her into an argument. Bledsoe said her harassment included racial slurs. During lunch, his daughter was then chased into the bathroom by at least four of her other students and beaten by one of the students, who recorded the attack on her phone.

The video was shared on social media.

Bledsoe said the school did not notify him of the attack, and his family experienced similar failures from the district over previous harassment his daughter faced. It’s a white school district, and Bledsoe said her daughter was the target of harassment because of her skin color.

A Facebook post from Bledsoe about the August attacks and lack of notification in the district was shared by more than 1,000 people, with more than 50 community members attending Tuesday’s meeting. This meeting was moved in advance to the middle school cafetorium, which was able to accommodate a large crowd.

Aric Bledsoe addresses the Vinton County Board of Education at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. [Kaitlin Thorne | WOUB]

Superintendent Rick Brooks addressed the crowd before the public participation portion of the conference.

“There are protocols that we must follow,” Brooks said. “Matters related to student discipline and incidents involving minors are confidential. The school district will not be commenting on the allegations or accusations tonight with respect to all parties involved. We will continue our commitment to continuous improvement.”

Because refraining from responding to public comments is standard practice among elected boards, and public participation time is viewed as an opportunity for the public to express their views.

Linda McKendry, a 1991 graduate of Vinton County Regional Schools, the aunt of the student who was attacked, flew out of Houston, Texas, to give a statement at the board meeting.

She said she believed her niece was a victim of a hate crime and was disappointed by the lack of action by the district.

McKendry said her niece wakes up every day looking forward to going to school and knows that her “safety is not guaranteed.”

“She deals with this every day and it’s terrifying. I appreciate people saying it will change, but it has to change now. Never again.” I don’t want to,” McKendry said.

Bledsoe spoke to the board on behalf of his daughter, reminding the board of the pattern he had seen in the district.

When his daughter was in seventh grade, he met with Brooks after a student cut her daughter’s hair in class for calling it a racist slur.

“Their answer at that meeting was to add more policies and programs. Called the n-word Do you want to know what was done?Nothing.Has he been sent to the principal?No, the teacher said, ‘I don’t want to hear it come out of your mouth again’ I said no,” said Bledsoe.

Bledsoe told the board they had dropped his daughter and that she was taking care of them while she was in school and “should be safe”, but she It wasn’t.

Bledsoe’s daughter suffered a concussion, a bruised nose and a cut lip, but the 15-year-old girl had medical complications since birth, including a rib defect on her left side, which may have been made worse. be.

“She has no ribs to protect her heart. I could have gone to the field,” said Bledsoe.

Board members are expected to remain silent during the public session, but board member Laura Martin spoke up after Bledsoe’s speech.

“Mr. Brooks, you didn’t handle this right, nor did Mr. Kirkpatrick (Assistant Principal at Vinton County High School). I don’t know anything. I’m on the board of directors. Yes, and haven’t heard any updates since the 29th,” Martin said.

Martin said he emailed Brooks on August 29, requesting an update. He replied to all members of the board the same day, saying he would update him once he spoke with law enforcement. Guardian of Saioto Valley When WOUB public media.

Martin has sent Brooks three more emails, but has yet to hear back from him.

Board member Scarlett Newton confirmed that the board lacked information about the attack.

“As a board, we don’t even know what the punishment was for this kid,” she said.

Community member Nicky Martin shared her family’s story with the crowd. Her eldest daughter graduated from Vinton County High School in 2019. Her younger daughter attends a private middle school and plans to attend an online high school rather than attending Vinton.

“It was very difficult to get my girls to go to this school. I vowed never to take my daughter here again,” said Nicky Martin, whose older daughter suffered from anxiety and depression related to her treatment at school. She eventually overdosed in third grade.

“I spent seven days in a children’s psych ward with my daughter. I had to sit by her bed not knowing what would happen when we got out of here,” she said. .

Nicky Martin said her daughter, now a student at Ohio University, “bloomed” but said her experience at Vinton County High School changed her. not here.

Speaking directly to the board of directors, Nikki Martin said she was “disgusted” when she heard what happened to Bledsoe’s daughter, whom she babysat when she was little.

“When your daughter is sitting in the emergency room because she has a concussion, or sitting in the psych ward for seven days, you will probably realize that this has to stop,” she said.

Board member Mary Ann Hale said the board “must come together and do something” to stop the problem. I personally apologized to the entire family of

Laura Martin has issued a motion to hold an emergency board meeting to discuss emergency measures to address bullying and safety issues at school. An emergency meeting will be held at Central Elementary School on Thursday, September 22nd at 7:00 pm.

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