Father claims school isn’t preventing bullying of 2nd grader

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A Newport News father says his daughter, a second grader at Jenkins Elementary School, is being bullied and school administrators aren’t doing enough to stop it.

Michael Watson told 10 On Your Side his daughter, Elisabeth Rouche, came home crying last week.

“My child is in pain,” Watson said. “She was holding her face and she was screaming. When I moved her hand, I saw welts. You have to hit someone with so much force to break their skin.”

Any parent would be upset to see what Roache looked like after getting off the school bus that day. Watson said she was slapped on the bus ride home. He also claims this isn’t the first time his daughter has been bullied, and he feels as if school administrators aren’t putting a stop to it.

“We are trusting that our children, when they are not in our care and in the care of the school administrators, that they are getting the best possible education and that they are going to be in a safe learning environment,” Watson said. “Clearly, in this case, my daughter is not protected.”

Watson said his daughter has been picked on, punched and had objects thrown at her, and it’s been done by several different students. The little girl doesn’t even want to go to school anymore.

“She should be able to walk these streets as a free citizen, come to school and get her education without having to fear that somebody is going to assault her today,” Watson said.

School officials told WAVY.com they are aware of Watson’s complaint and take every report of bullying seriously. They said, in one case, a student was disciplined.

Watson did meet with school officials Monday, but when the meeting was over, he felt as if there would be no change. “From the administrative stand point, it seems as if they don’t care,” Watson said.

Monday evening, 10 On Your Side learned one student has been disciplined in relation to last week’s slapping incident. There is video of the incident, but school officials said WAVY.com isn’t allowed access to the video.

Newport News Public Schools sent WAVY.com the following statement:

Newport News Public Schools educates nearly 29,000 students each day; across the school division, staff and students at all levels work together to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.

All reports of inappropriate behavior are taken seriously and are quickly investigated. The report of this incident was received on Thursday, and an investigation was immediately launched by the school’s principal. As a result of the investigation, a first-grade student was sanctioned in accordance with Newport News Public Schools’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook. 

NNPS administrators work continuously with students, staff, family members and community organizations to make sure that safety is a top priority. The school division has numerous programs and a host of other initiatives aimed at maintaining a safe and nurturing environment for our students; but our partnership of students, parents, family members and others is the most important link in this effort. We invite anyone who knows of a safety concern in our schools to contact us so that we can work together in keeping schools the safest place possible for our children.

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