Parents go to school board members to voice concern over bullying in school

A dozen parents spoke at Tuesday's meeting
Posted at 10:17 PM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-23 23:28:21-04

BARTOW, Fla. -- More than a dozen parents spoke at Tuesday night's school board meeting in Polk County.

Parents and grandparents came together over concerns about bullying at a local elementary school.

"Our village is here to raise awareness and seek change, we offer to be part of making that change happen," said Tracey Dannemiller, a grandparent.

Tracey Dannemiller told school board members about her granddaughter who attends Medulla Elementary in Polk County.

POLK COUNTY NEWS | The latest headlines from Polk County

She said her granddaughter came home in February with marks around her neck after another student hit her.

"She was taken to the doctor, who confirmed they were broken blood vessels in her neck caused by a forceful hit or blow," Dannemiller said.

Parents told school board members they worry their concerns are not being heard by school staff or their concerns have been "downplayed."

One mother said her son received threatening letters from another student.

"They started out with 'you're ugly and I hate you' and quickly progressed with threats like, 'I'll knife you or I'll burn you,'" said Heather Brenneman, a mother.

At least a dozen people spoke about bullying at the meeting. Some school board members called their stories "disturbing."

"I'm confident that appropriate action will be forthcoming," said Lynn Wilson, Polk County School Board member.

"We don't know these things until someone tells us. The fact they you've come out and shared your stories, it means the world to us," said Sara Beth Reynolds, Polk County School Board member.

Parents at Medulla Elementary School received an automated telephone message from school staff stating the following:
"You may have seen some recent news reports that described allegations of widespread bullying at Medulla Elementary.

Medulla Elementary takes any allegation of bullying very seriously. Please be assured that our students are safe. There is not widespread bullying at Medulla Elementary. Reports about bullying are thoroughly investigated by administrators, and there is also oversight from the district office.

If bullying is determined to have taken place, an action plan is developed. Discipline is also administered when appropriate and necessary. The staff of Medulla Elementary is dedicated to ensuring a safe learning environment.

We encourage anyone who has information about possible bullying to report it. Bullying may be reported by contacting school administrators by phone or in person. Parents can also visit[] where they can report bullying online.

Please feel free to contact Medulla Elementary with any questions or concerns."