It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.
Your son comes home from school and tells you he was choked by another student to the point where he passed out.
That nightmare was reality for Shayna Brumbalough. Her son, Jace, is a sixth-grade student with Autism at Parma City School District’s Greenbriar Middle School. Autism has never held him back, only bullies.
This bullying incident happened on February 27th in an unsupervised hallway. While there weren’t any teachers around, the incident was caught on surveillance video.
Jace told us it all happened just before dismissal. As he went to his locker, he said “hi” to two students. One of them responded saying he was going to “choke him” – and he did just that. The boy grabbed him from behind with both hands.
“He started choking me and I tried to tell him to stop. But he wouldn’t. And once he let go, I took a gasp,” said Jace, trying to recall the incident as best as he could.
After briefly catching his breath, the bully wrapped his arm around Jace’s neck and choked him again using his forearm.
“And then squeezed until he blacked out and lost consciousness,” says Shayna, holding back tears. She wasn’t allowed to watch the entire video, but instead was shown stills of her son’s battle with classmates.
“I cried. It was hard to watch. Because he’s my kid. And he’s a really nice kid.”
This isn’t the first time her son has been bullied. She says it’s happened several times over the past 15 months. Another incident happened in the gym locker room where she says her son was shoved and punched.
But she says the school hasn’t done enough to fix the problem.
Shayna says, “They investigate. And then, I don’t hear much. They say ‘we’ll take care of it."
This choking incident in the hallway was the final straw.
She immediately took her son to the hospital after he told her what happened. Then she took matters to her own hands and went to police, who she says have been much more supportive and helpful.
Two students involved in the bullying have been identified. Police say they will face charges, but the case hasn’t made its way to the courts yet.
As for Jace, he’s now being kept home until his parents can setup homeschooling – Greenbriar not a viable option anymore.
“How do you expect me to send my son here if I don’t know that he’s safe?” she asked.
“I’ve been bullied in other schools, but I’ve never been touched or actually hurt in any other schools but that one,” said Jace. “I want to go back to school to learn. But not that school.”
We contacted the Parma City School District, but they weren’t able to comment on the specifics of this situation. They did release a statement about how they handle bullying:
Parma City School District is committed to providing students in Parma, Parma Heights and Seven Hills with a quality education in a safe school environment.
PCSD takes all reports of bullying seriously and our Safety and Security Department diligently investigates these incidents. If bullying incident is reported to the district, we conduct a follow up meeting with students and parents as to measures taken by the school.
Our schools take a proactive approach to bullying and our teachers are constantly teaching and modeling the appropriate behavior in our schools including kindness, acceptance, tolerance and empathy.
Every building has Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS. This initiative supports appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environments. Each month, teachers have lessons to impact behavior and discipline in the buildings. District home liaisons and guidance counselors also provide support to students and offer small group instruction to foster appropriate behavior at school.
In addition, buildings conduct various anti-bullying programs throughout the year such as assemblies, a school-wide Unity Day and guest speakers.
Parma City School District maintains several ways to reporting bullying including an anonymous 24/7 Bullying Hotline, at 440-886-7630 and an online bullying report email, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students have been encouraged to “see something, hear something, say something” and make a verbal report or concern to any PCSD staff member.
The districts Safety and Security department, which includes our School Resource Officers, are current and/or retired law enforcement officials. They continually work to monitor safety protocols and initiatives in each of our buildings. They also work with our students to promote safety and good citizenship in our schools.