A teenager tried to do the right thing and got punished for it. High school senior Stormy Rich got banned from the school bus after reporting the bullying of a special needs student.
For months, Rich watched as they treated a mentally challenged middle school girl cruelly, telling her she couldn't sit in certain spots and feeding her food they had put in their mouths. "Just because she doesn't understand doesn't mean that should be happening to her," said the Umatilla High School student, who was riding a later middle school bus because she didn't have a first period class.
When the bus driver did nothing, the horrified 18-year-old took her complaint to school officials. She and her mother both wrote formal letters but weeks went by with no response.
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In her frustration, Rich told the bullies if the school wouldn't do anything about it, she would. That's when officials finally got involved, telling her she could no longer ride the bus because she was displaying bullying behavior. Their stance: two wrongs don't make a right. They went on to say they didn't get involved because the girl supposedly being picked on never complained herself and that she is capable of doing so.
Sorry, I'm not buying that excuse for a failure to act on behalf of a special needs student -- or any student for that matter. How many times have we seen victims of bullying remain silent out of fear. And in this case, it is unclear if the girl really understood what was happening to her. Does that make it any less wrong? At the very least, they should have looked into the matter.
It was appallingly irresponsible to dismiss Rich's complaints. Then to punish her for standing up for a girl she didn't think could stand up for herself is both shocking and sad. How can we teach our kids to do the right thing when the adults they come face to face with do not.
Were school officials wrong for banning Stormy Rich from the bus?