When does bullying cross the line and become assault?
That’s a question East Missoula parents Calen and Danielle Giguerer want answered. The Giguerers say their 6-year-old son Joshua has been a favorite victim of older Rattlesnake School bullies and they don’t feel the school is taking the matter seriously.
“My son has been repeatedly assaulted by these second-grade gangster wannabes,” says Calen. “My kid doesn’t belong in an unsafe environment. I’ve been to bus drivers, teachers, principals and administrators and nothing’s been done.”
The Missoula County Public School District adopted an anti-bully measure on May 9, but the policy doesn’t prescribe specific disciplinary actions, and it mandates confidentiality.
For that reason, Rattlesnake Principal Gail Becker says she can’t tell the Giguerers what “remedial action” has been taken, only that action has been taken.
“It’s been difficult for him to hear what we are doing,” says Becker, acknowledging the parents’ frustration.
Becker did say bullies’ parents are notified “when a situation [indicates] that kind of contact.”
But the Giguerers were so worried about their son’s safety that they removed Joshua from school for two days. He returned to class on Tuesday.
The Giguerers say the bullying began in March and mainly involved scratching and arm-twisting. But it escalated on May 16, when Joshua told his parents that a tormentor kicked him in the crotch on the school bus.
“Thank God nothing worse happened,” says Calen, adding that a childhood classmate of his had to have a testicle removed after being booted in the crotch.
“That kid never walked right again,” recalls Calen. “I don’t know if he was ever able to have children.”
While the school refuses to disclose the nature of the corrective action imposed on the alleged bully, Danielle has since noticed some changes at the bus stop. For one thing, she says, she’s noticed that the bullies’ parents have been escorting the boys to the bus stop each morning.
But she’s not sure what to expect when school lets out on June 9.
“We live in the same neighborhood,” she says. “I hope it stops during the summer.”