All parents know that bullying has become an issue in recent years —or at least that more people are focused on it and are trying to curb it as much as possible in school and online. But when we send our kids to school, it’s the other children who we suspect might be the bullies. Never the teacher, right? Parents in Los Lunas, N.M., find themselves in the unfortunate and unbelievable position of having had a teacher bully their nine-year-old son. In his very own classroom.
Last fall, Diego Ortega was making up excuse after excuse to avoid going to school. Every day he complained to his mother, Alexandria Lente, about a different ailment so that he could stay home. After much crying and pleading, the fourth grader informed his mother of the reason for his behavior.
KRQE News 13 has the story:
Lente says one of his fourth-grade teachers, a science teacher, publicly picked on her son. It was during class one day that the teacher started talking about bullying.
“After the presentation…he called my son out to the classroom and asked the class to write an essay on Diego being a bully,” she said.
“And then I didn’t like that so I started crying,” Diego told KRQE News 13.
KRQE News 13 obtained copies of the essays from the Ortega family’s attorney.
One of the essays calls Diego rude. Another says Diego laughed at the student and called the student a “scared-y cat.” A few others say he got in their faces.
The teacher’s irresponsible act was an instance of bullying in and of itself. It devastated Diego and left him in tears. But when the parents confronted the school principal about what had happened, he said it was OK because it was a “learning assignment.”
Diego was so negatively affected by his teacher’s “lesson” that his parents had to pull him out of school and homeschool him for the remainder of the year. To make matters worse, the parents are in the middle of a lawsuit with the school district as a result of the incident:
Their attorney, Ed Meintzer, says he filed a public information request seeking the essay copies, along with other documents from Los Lunas School District, in mid-December of last year.
Meintzer says the school district did not promptly respond to the public information request as required by law and should be held liable for the Ortegas’ attorney fees for that reason.
Meintzer sent this statement to KRQE News 13:
The Los Lunas School District spent a year’s worth of unnecessary attorneys fees paid for by the taxpayers hiding the fact that they ignored the Ortega’s IPRA request contrary the statutory purpose of transparency, which cost the Ortega’s over $20,000 in unnecessary attorneys fees.
The Los Lunas School District would not comment on the pending lawsuit or the essay assignment by the teacher.
In the year since being withdrawn from school and subsequently homeschooled, Diego has returned to a different school in his district. His parents say he is doing well relative to how he was faring a year ago.