Continuous bullying prompts mother to withdraw children from North Middle School

North Middle School, located in Grants Pass, has a total enrollment just under 800 students. (KTVL/Genevieve Grippo)

A mother of two students at North Middle School in Grants Pass is transferring her children after she said the school failed to put a stop to ongoing bullying.

Parent Kirbie Brown said her eldest child has been bullied at the school since sixth grade, but the taunting intensified when her 14-year-old son came out as transgender last year.

Since then, she said her son, Adrian, was subjected to threats of physical violence and hate crimes.

"Ever since he came out about being transgender," she said, "It's either he's getting picked on about it, or he's being bullied about it, or, [bullies say] 'I liked you better when you were a girl.'"

"There's been times Adrian has gotten notes in his locker saying, 'I hope you die,'" said Brown. She notes times that students have told Adrian to drink bleach and kill himself.

The bullying prompted Brown to contact the school's principal, Tommy Blanchard, multiple times-- mostly surrounding the behaviors of a particular student towards Adrian.

E-mails that Brown shared between her and Blanchard document cases dating back to November.

In one particular message, Brown contacted Blanchard about an incident, stating, "I take this very seriously and am not happy that my child feels as unsafe as he does. I asked if there were incident reports filed and he said it doesn’t stop things it makes it worse. I appreciate everything you have done to help the transition for Adrian and making things easier. But this kind of bullying is not ok."

Blanchard and Brown set up a time to discuss the situation. Blanchard responded via email, "I am really looking forward to the meeting. I want to make sure Adrian feels safe and make sure we are all on the same page."

Brown said that while Blanchard was responsive via e-mails and in meetings with Brown, little was actually done to fix the problem.

Over the past few months, Brown said the bully was given a three-day suspension and a no-contact order was issued between he and Adrian.

But she was pushing for a harsher punishment, given the severity of the situation and the student's record.

"Last year the boy had actually inappropriately touched Adrian on the butt, and another student, and was expelled for one year," said Brown. "He came back this year and has been continually harassing him."

Adrian said he's tried to seek help on his own by going to the school's administration and counselors, but he found no major change in how his problems were handled.

All together, he said he's filled out over 30 incident reports regarding bullying at the school.

"I think it is a huge deal, especially here," said Brown. "They don't do much to prevent it. They haven't done much to stop it when it happens."

Still, the problems persisted. Eventually, Adrian started to go straight to the principle with his concerns.

"He said unless it got worse, all he could do was talk to them about it," said Adrian. "And all I was thinking is that he should be doing more than just talk to them about it, because it's not okay."

Even though Adrian only has a couple of months left in his eighth grade year, he begged his mom to let him transfer schools because of the bullying.

"I asked my mom if I could transfer again because I didn't want to be here where I'm surrounded by people that don't like me," he said.

After a meeting with the school's staff on Thursday, Brown said she had had enough and decided to withdraw both of her children from North Middle. They'll be starting at their new school next week.

"They've had bullying issues before," she said. "They've had years of bullying issues. And it's just not getting taken care of."

News 10 spoke to Principal Blanchard, who said the school was unable to comment on the specific situation because it deals with the privacy of minors.

He did release the following statement:

"North Middle School and Grants Pass District 7 is fully committed to providing an environment that is safe and conducing to learning. We do not tolerate bullying or harassment and will investigate promptly and fully when allegations are brought forward. We take all allegations very seriously. We follow board policy, provide due process and students who are found to be in violation of the policy will be subject to appropriate discipline."

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