Parents push for policy change after bullying incidents in Polk Schools

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) — Parents in Polk County are challenging school policies they claim protect bullies and not victims.

A handful of those parents took on the school board during Tuesday night’s meeting, calling out privacy policies that include limiting what they’re told about their student’s attacker.

The effort was spearheaded by Lauren Springfield, whose son was the subject of a locker room fight caught on cell phone video in a Blake Academy locker room last week.

The viral video got a lot of shares on social media but Springfield says after the fact, she received very little information about her son’s safety at school.

“We deserve school policies that align with protecting victims’ rights, not sheltering the accused,” Springfield told the board.

“Not that I want to see a video of my son being beat, but I deserve as a parent to see,” said another parent, January Lacy, who says her children have been bullied and beat up at school as well.

Lacy told the board she could not see the video recording of her son’s attack, because it was “just for the other student’s parents.”

School board member Billy Townsend agrees the district could do a better job of reconciling one student’s privacy, which is mandated by law, with a parent’s right to know what happened.

“If I was in their position, I would want to know,” Townsend said to 8 On Your Side after the meeting.

The boy seen beating up Springfield’s son is now facing battery charges and was suspended for at least ten days. That’s all that she’s been informed of.

A P.E. teacher in charge of supervising the locker room when the fight broke out has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd apologized to the Springfield family at Tuesday night’s meeting.

After the meeting, Springfield said none of that is enough, asserting that policies need to be changed, the P.E. teacher needs to be fired, and her son’s bully needs to be expelled.

“I think that if you put your hands on somebody in that type of assault, that means you are gone from that school,” Springfield said.

The Blake Academy locker room fight is still under investigation by the district and the Lakeland Police Department.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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