North Dakota mother moves her daughter because of bullying
A North Dakota mother says her daughter's bullying was so severe, she moved her to another school district. Heather Heick of Leonard, N.D. says she moved her 10-year-old daughter from Kindred Elementary School to Mapleton.
An acquaintance of hers contacted our Whistleblower Hotline, saying she’s concerned the school didn't do enough to protect the young girl.
It started with pleas to stay home from school:
"For the last couple months it's been, ‘My stomach hurts, I don't want to go to school,’" Heick said.
Then Heick says her daughter's mood changed.
“She was coming home crabby, saying she hates herself, ‘I don't want to go to school,’" Heick said.
And then her grades started to drop.
"She's a straight-A student, always 105 percent," Heick said.
Heick says she still didn't know what was going on with her daughter until a few weeks ago.
"I was dropping them off on Wednesday and she had asked me why kids bully," she said.
That's when Heick learned the disturbing truth.
"Pulled up to the school and she said that someone told her that she needs to kill herself," Heick said.
Her daughter started to draw lines on her wrist.
"Which she's never done before,” Heick said, “I mean the kid's always been happy-go-lucky."
Heick says she first reached out to her daughter's teacher:
"I didn't hear anything back that day and I thought, well maybe he...end of the day or whatever," she said.
The next day she contacted the principal—and then she did hear back from the teacher. But for an entire week, she says, the bullies were still in class with her daughter.
"Which I would think telling people to go kill yourself should be a no tolerance kind of thing,” Heick said. “He got talked to, and then put back in class...so he knows he can get away with it."
A week later, she met with the teacher and principal. She says parents still weren't contacted at that point.
"They knew for a week," Heick said, referring to the week she first reached out, before she actually met with school staff.
Heick says she then posted her dilemma on social media—that's when she heard from one of the bullies’ mother.
"She's like, 'the school hasn't contacted me,'” Heick said. “I'm like, 'What?'”
Messaging back and forth with a school resource officer, Heick showed us advice she was given, discouraging her from posting her experience on social media.
When we visited the school we were told the mother just wasn't informed of all the school's actions because of privacy laws.
The school later emailed us, saying:
“Kindred School District is committed to insuring the safety and education of all students, which includes addressing bullying. When bullying is observed and/or reported, investigation procedures are followed and disciplinary consequences and/or corrective measures are taken. Our bullying policies are in place and available on our website and in our student handbooks.”
The school also sent us its bullying policy—which does include contacting the parents of students accused of bullying.
The school did not answer our questions, regarding the student resource officer's response to the mother, as well as its way of handling students' complaints—using what the school calls "tattle slips."
Meanwhile, Heick says she’s not taking any chances. As of Wednesday, she moved her kids to Mapleton Elementary School.
And when one woman found out about the situation through social media, she started a YouCaring page to help this young girl know she is loved. We'll continue to update you as it progresses.