Oak Hill bullying police report released; superintendent comments on district's anti-bullying policies
A local woman who previously declared mom war on bullying at Oak Hill Middle School is one step closer to a resolution following an investigation by the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office.
The Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday decided to pursue legal charges after a deputy viewed video of an incident involving the woman’s son and another student last Monday at the Oak Hill bus ramp. The other student was charged with battery and the case turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The two students ride the same bus and live on the same street.
Brandi Faulk's first post on the Milledgeville Roadblocks Warning Facebook page on Monday received more than 1,000 interactions, and her subsequent posts have garnered another couple of thousand. The first post documented the bullying experienced her son, who's autistic, as well as a pair of pics that showed red marks around the boy's neck.
As a subsequent act of mom warfare, Faulk launched an online petition. As of Sunday morning, the petition already had 627 signatures. According to the text of the online petition:
Our 13 year old (High Functioning Autistic) son has been bullied since the beginning of the school. Yesterday April 25th, 2022 a student who a week before busted his nose, decided to choke him while getting onto the bus. My son came home with bruises and marks on his neck. Even though we have been to the school numerous times, nothing has been done to fix the situation. In the last 24 hours we have found out that there is so many parents going through the same exact abuse from our Baldwin County School System. My son thinks he has done something wrong for people to not like him. The bullying must stop. Children commit suicide everyday for less than what has happened to my son. I am hoping that we can bring our entire community together and end this stigma now!!!
The marks around the child's neck stemmed from a Monday afternoon incident at the Oak Hill bus stop, according to the BCSO incident report. A deputy responded to the school on Wednesday and viewed video of the incident, alongside the school resource officer (also a deputy), as well as an assistant principal. Added the incident report: "(The two boys) approach the school bus, walking together. They appear to be in a verbal altercation from the video. (The other boy) pushes (Faulk's son), then grabs (Faulk's son) by the neck and starts slinging him around. (Faulk's son) appears to try to grab (the other boy) by the neck but another student steps between them. (The two boys) stop and board the bus."
After viewing the video and interviewing both boys and "considering all facts and surrounding the event, a Juvenile Complaint form has been completed against (the other boy) for battery and forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Justice," according to the incident report.
Faulk said that she appreciates all of the hard work by the BCSO, but she still resents the way that the situation was handled by Oak Hill. She told Baldwin2K News that during a phone conference on Wednesday with Oak Hill's principal, Draymond Ray, she was told that the school would not pursue criminal charges and instead considered the incident "horse play," according to the school's "bullying flow chart."
"How could (school administrators) watch the exact same video that the Sheriff's Office watched and come to such a different conclusion?" she said.
Faulk said that she and her husband currently are exploring the idea of finding an attorney and legal representation.
Superintendent Noris Price offered some perspective and insight in an email to Baldwin2k News. According to the superintendent, there's some flexibility in the policy, in terms of filing a complaint with the Sheriff's Office and pursuing criminal charges.
"School administrators or parents can file a complaint with law enforcement if they believe a crime may have occurred," Price wrote. "We use the BCSD Student Code of Conduct to address discipline issues. School administrators initiate and perform a thorough investigation when incidents of bullying are brought to their attention. This matter was investigated by the school administration after they were notified of the incident."
Baldwin2k News will have a follow-up article tomorrow detailing the progress that the school district has made with bullying and its different programs and initiatives.
"The Baldwin County School District (BCSD) is committed to providing a safe and orderly learning environment for all students, staff and visitors. The District takes bullying very seriously and will not tolerate such action," wrote Price. "All bullying incidents are addressed according to the District Student Code of Conduct and progressive discipline plan based upon the facts and merit of each reported incident."