GALVESTON — A Galveston mother says the island school district punished her son for protecting himself and his sister from bullies but did nothing to stop the bullying.
Galveston school officials, meanwhile, say that they had moved to stop the harassment and the sixth-grader should not have threatened his classmates.
Noelle Bruce’s 11-year-old son Deavon Josey, a sixth-grader at KIPP Secondary School, was charged with a Class B misdemeanor after trying to scare off three boys his mother said had threatened to hurt him and his sister at the end of school on Oct. 21.
“They told him they were going to beat him up, and if he ran, they were going to kill him,” she said. “And then they were going to kill his sister.”
The boys also threatened to burn his house down and harm his girlfriend.
Bruce readily admits that the threats were most likely bluster, but she said her 11-year-old son took them seriously.
Deavon told a teacher at the school, she said, and the boys denied the threats.
Still afraid for himself and his sister, Bruce said, Deavon “in a moment of fear” went home after school, grabbed a toy BB pistol, took out the clip holding the BBs and went to pick up his sister at the bus stop.
When the boys approached him, he pulled the pistol out of his waistband, “yelled some profanities and told them to get away from him,” Bruce said.
A KIPP teacher saw the incident and reported the incident to school officials. The next day, Deavon met with Galveston school district police and discussed the incident.
He was charged with terroristic threats, a Class B misdemeanor and was suspended from school. The other boys were not disciplined, Bruce said.
Dyann Polzin, the district’s communications officer, confirmed most of the details of the Oct. 21 incident.
However, Polzin said the incident was on school property. Bruce said her son was not on school property, but the other boys were.
For Bruce, the incident was avoidable. She had talked to school officials several days before the incident to discuss a dispute between her son and several other boys at the school.
At one point, Deavon had been hit in the face by another student, and Bruce asked school administrators to help diffuse the situation.
“My exact words … were: ‘What is going on between these boys is completely normal,” she said.
“It is typical 11-year-old behavior and there’s nothing big enough that you can’t sit them down and talk it out.”
School officials said they would talk to the boys, Bruce said. Her hope was that the situation would be resolved and wouldn’t get worse.
Polzin said administrators took steps to deal with the other students and that the district takes bullying seriously.
The district handles each bullying allegation individually, Polzin said, and uses school counselors and other resources to resolve any problems with the students involved.
The school district also participates in anti-bullying programs like Rachel’s Challenge, a program inspired by Rachel Scott, a student killed in the Columbine shooting in 1999. The program encourages children to intervene to stop bullying in their school.
That’s cold comfort for Bruce. She said she’s worried that the incident will follow her son for the rest of his academic career.
And she also said she’s upset that it’s her son who seems to be the only one suffering for the entire situation.
“Is he wrong? Yes. Do I realize he could have endangered his own life by making that mistake? Yes,” she said.
“But for them to take it as far as they have, to not render any consequences to the other children. … My son is taking his punishment, but everybody else involved should have, too.”