Bland middle school parents share learning standards, bullying concerns

By Roxie Murphy, Assistant Editor
Posted 4/3/24

BELLE — Concerned parents of Bland Middle School students shared grievances on March 26 with the Maries County R-2 Board of Education.

Board President Kenda Sanders shared the rules with …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Bland middle school parents share learning standards, bullying concerns


BELLE — Concerned parents of Bland Middle School students shared grievances on March 26 with the Maries County R-2 Board of Education.

Board President Kenda Sanders shared the rules with parents, including the three-minute time limit to speak and that the board would not be engaging in conversation.

Both parents were called under “comments from visitors.” Those who want to speak with the board must sign up with the superintendent in advance. Sanders addressed them about the rules first.

“Before we start with that, let me say that it is board policy that you all receive three minutes to talk about the item in which you have filled out the form and dropped before the board,” Sanders said.

Both parents were unaware of the time limit.

“Do you think we could have heard about that a little earlier? Cause I have a two-page —,” Bonnie Silveus held up the pages.

“I was under the impression that you were aware that there was a time limit,” Sanders said. “If you do have something printed, you can distribute it to the board if you want. But we will follow the three-minute rule and we do have a timer set up for you all. During this time it is your time to speak, not our time. We will not converse with you during this time. It is your three minutes to tell us what you would like to share with us.”

Chastity Nunnery introduced herself and said she has twins in seventh grade.

“My issue is with the standards-based learning. I don’t feel I’m being communicated with like I should as far as their level,” she said. “I’m not speaking just for my child, but for other children, too. There is a communication (issue) and I saw that the board’s goals: increase student performance and achievement — I don’t feel like that is being done. Promote community and parental involvement and support and academic achievement in the district — I don’t feel like that is being done. I really didn’t have a problem with the elementary school, I feel like they was at least tryin’. Middle school, I feel more like I’m bein’ appeased and just ‘tell her what she needs to hear’ in order to shut me up. Not in a rude way, but I have been told — I don’t want to say names — but I have been told some things that were not truth. The teachers, if I come to them, or the school — (daughter) needs more time. She does get extra class, I understand, but she still needs more time. My child is not the only one. I feel like the standard-based learning is dumbing our kids down. It’s not giving them an education, especially a child like I have.”

Nunnery said she has removed her daughter from two classes and they are homeschooling part-time due to her child’s needs not being met under current practices.

“It’s failing our kids,” Nunnery said. “The communication, finding out things we need — there’s four, five places? It’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I might find it here or might find it there. That’s no good for us. I’m a stay-at-home mom and I have a lot of time on my hands. I am able to do it, but a lot of parents are not.”

Nunnery finished by telling the board there was a MAP meeting with Principal Mandy Seaver and Counselor Jeff Schultz recently.

“No body knew about it. I accidentally found it last week, after the meeting happened, so they didn’t try to get that out good enough.”

The three-minute timer went off and Sanders thanked Nunnery for bringing her concerns before the board.

Silveus said she has two kids in the district, one at Bland Middle and the other at Belle Elementary.

“I have a deep concern regarding the pervasive issue of bullying and its profound impact on the mental well-being of our children,” she began.

Silveus shared examples and suggestions to “foster a safer and healthier environment for all of the students.”

“First, I want to emphasize that my intention here is not to assign blame, but rather to provide insight into how certain situations for us have been addressed over the past two years,” she said. “A couple of years ago, I enrolled my middle schooler in Compass Health and in-school counseling, however, to my dismay, he has yet to receive any counseling.

“Last year, my son faced significant challenges with a bully in his class. I spoke with the teacher, she verified his complaints, and just two weeks later, she sat my son between the bully and the bully’s best friend. Toward the end of the school year, I asked Mrs. Seaver if we could address scheduling concerns and bullying issues for the upcoming year and was met with evasiveness, combativeness, and inaction which exacerbated the situation. Despite having emailed Mr. Schultz the names of the worst bullies, my son’s classes have multiple bullies in them.

“Last year, during a strange misunderstanding, a girl told my son, ‘my dad is going to shoot you in the face.’ When attempting to follow up on this incident, I was told I wasn’t allowed to know anything that transpired.

“On one occasion, when my son reported bullying toward him and his friend, Mrs. Seaver went out of her way to say that he was the one bullying the other child.

“My son is continuously called names like SPED for special ed, dumb, gay, faggot, stupid, retard, titties, the list goes on. Continuously pushed, kicked, tripped, slammed into and has had items thrown at him.

“I am going to have to skip a lot of this because I wrote a lot,” Silveus told the board. “Even after a child’s suicide, I still get a lack of concern and a barrage of excuses. The only caring or professional demeanor has been with (Assistant Principal Bobbi Robertson) and (Superintendent Dr. Lenice Basham), however, I had to seek them out. Most parents would have given up after two years with minimal progress and I cannot imagine any child or any person not getting any help with the zero-tolerance policy in place. Victims are afraid to stand up for themselves. I firmly believe we need to rethink our strategies and prioritize the mental health and well-being of our students. This includes exploring alternative disciplinary measures, fostering  a culture of empathy, inclusivity and providing adequate support services such as counseling.

“I sent you guys an article regarding New Zealand, talked about the bullying and taking away the rules at recess and the bullying stopped. If ‘no rules’ is too far of a stretch, what about more time between classes? Recess for those who haven’t one, more items for kids to play with at all ages like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, outdoor games, crafts to give to children to play with.”

The timer went off and Silveus said she had a lot more, but she had no idea she’d only have three minutes.

Sanders asked her to feel free to distribute copies of her pages to the board to read over.

“We appreciate you being here to advocate for your child. Thank you.”