Editor’s note: The Courier-Herald is not publishing the names of students involved to protect their identities. Only first names for parents will be used.
A media storm hit Buckley this past week after a student at Glacier Middle School was told by several students to commit suicide.
On June 16, the seventh-grade student reportedly gave his yearbook to several schoolmates, who wrote “you should do the world a favor and die,” and “kill yourself,” among several expletives and crude sketches.
According to Shannon, the student’s mother, the student then left school in order to drown himself in the White River.
Before he reached the river, the student texted Shannon, “‘I’m sorry Mom, I just can’t take it anymore and maybe I should just do it. Maybe they’re right. I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’” she said in an interview with KATU.
Shannon found him by the river soon after, having changed his mind about killing himself because it wasn’t worth it.
The White River School District released a statement about the incident on June 19.
“Late last week, a bullying incident occurred at Glacier Middle School and was widely broadcast on social media. As educators, we are devastated when something like this happens to any student. Our immediate concern is for the safety and well-being of the student involved, and school administration has been working closely with the student and their family from the beginning,” Superintendent Janelle Keating-Hambly wrote in the letter’s opening. “This response has also included the involvement of local law enforcement. An incident like this affects us all. While we are dealing with this specific and personal case, we also face an awareness that we are not alone in dealing with the effects of bullying. This is an issue across the state, and the nation, and White River is not immune.”
Another statement was released by Assistant Superintendent Mike Hagadone on Thursday, June 22.
“The White River School District takes all allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying seriously. Our primary concern at this time is the safety and well being of our student at Glacier Middle School,” Hagadone wrote. “The district is conducting an ongoing investigation into this incident in conjunction with the Buckley Police Department. Due to confidentiality and constraints that we are bound to, it is not appropriate for me to discuss any details regarding this issue.”
However, Shannon and her attorney, Yvonne Ward, have stated that the school and the district have not been working with the family, either during this incident or others that happened over the past year.
In an interview, Ward said the bullying started at the beginning of the year. Two incidents involved a fight between Shannon’s son and multiple students, Ward added, but only Shannon’s son and one other student were given in-school suspension.
As the bullying continued, “he was really not wanting to go to school. He did everything in his power not to go to school,” Ward said.
In May, Shannon’s son told her about the bullying. Shannon attempted to meet with school administration several times, but her calls were never returned, Ward said.
Shannon then went to the school to force a meeting with administration on May 23, and asked Assistant Principal John Schumacher to investigate these incidents.
Shannon followed up on this meeting on May 25 by informing Schumacher via email that other students are continuing to harass her son by using ethnic expletives and telling him to kill himself.
Shannon then asked Schumacher if the school talked to any of the boys she and her son mentioned in the May 23 meeting.
According to Ward, Schumacher did not respond.
Hagadone declined to comment.
Shannon and Ward have said they plan to file suit against the school, but as of June 26, the press deadline, no suit had been filed.