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Parents: Bullying widespread at a Polk County elementary school

Posted at 8:34 PM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 09:40:47-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — Abuse, violence and constant bullying are just few of the allegations a group of mothers has against a Polk County school.

The parents say their children have been hit, dragged on the ground and stepped on by other students.

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Now, those parents are banding together to create change.

“They are being abused,” said Tracey Dannemiller, a grandmother

Dannemiller said dozens of mothers and fathers are dealing with the same issues inside of Medulla Elementary.

Tuesday, three mothers met with ABC Action News to give a glimpse into the world they say they’ve been dealing with.

Katrina Aldridge said each one of her children have attended Medulla.

“All I’ve dealt with is all of my kids being bullied,” Aldridge said.

Aldridge said because of challenges with brain cancer, her seven-year-old is constantly being picked on.

“A little boy telling my son to put a plastic bag over his head and kill himself,” Aldridge said.

Aldridge also showed reporters a bruise she says her son got while in school, claiming another student stepped on her son on purpose.

Another mother says her daughter has been bullied online and at school.

“Two girls jumped my daughter and initially said ‘oh we can’t do nothing about it, it wasn’t on school campus but then says a week later, says your daughter can’t walk to school no more,’” said Misty Smith.

Smith took her daughter out of Medulla Elementary, saying staff at that school wouldn’t take their claims seriously.

“This has got to stop,” Dannemiller said. Her goal is to make a better environment not only for her own granddaughter but all children in Polk County.

“We realize it is going to take us coming together to make this difference for our children,” Dannemiller said.

The Village, as Dannemiller calls it, has grown into more than 20 parents with similar stories who also wish to enact change.

ABC Action News spoke with Polk County Public Schools, which says there have not been any reports of wide spread bullying at Medulla Elementary.

“We are entrusted with these children and it’s our job to provide them a safe, secure environment in which to learn,” Rachel Pleasant, a spokeswoman with the district said.

Pleasant went on to say Polk County Public Schools looks into each allegation and if parents have a complaint about bullying, they’re told to report it to the school, the district office and online:

“We take any allegation of bullying very seriously. Those allegations are investigated at the school level, theres also oversight from the district office,” Pleasant said.

Parents ABC Action News spoke with say they have spoken with Medulla Elementary staff many times as well as reporting it online.

“Nobody has been removed from classes, he’s told teachers, teachers do nothing, we go to the principal, the principal does nothing,” Aldridge said.

Parents say their next step is to head to the school board and to ask for policy reform and enforcement.

“I think there needs to be some house cleaning done of staff if they cannot or will not do their jobs,” Dannemiller said.

The Polk County Sheriff’s office tells ABC Action News because of the ages of children involved at the elementary level, most incident are left to school administrators to handle, unless the severity of the altercations rise to the level of a crime.