Fruita pupil’s mom starts petition to expel bullies

The mother of a Fruita 8/9 student who was beaten by a classmate last month has started a petition asking School District 51 to expel bullies.

A video recorded on a cellphone Feb. 22 in the school’s cafeteria shows one female student hitting another until the alleged victim’s 14-year-old sister intervenes. Carrie Thrall, the mother of the alleged 15-year-old victim, testified at a School Board meeting Tuesday that her daughter was told there was nothing the school could do about keeping the alleged aggressor away from her before the fight.

“Is being beaten until you’re unconscious and then still being beaten not serious enough? Why did no one intervene?” Thrall asked the board.

Thrall told the board Tuesday that she had more than 100 signatures on a petition asking the school district to expel anyone who bullies or assaults someone at school.

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the petition had 151 signatures on Change.org.

“Good kids shouldn’t be pulled from schools because the bad kids aren’t having consequences,” Thrall said.

The petition is addressed to District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee and Fruita 8/9 School Assistant Principal Leah Gonyeau. Thrall said she wasn’t sure how to set up the online petition so it was posted by David Schultz, a Maryland man who saw a national news story about last month’s incident and contacted Thrall.

Jeanne DeKrueger of Loma said she supports Thrall’s petition and contacted Thrall to share her own story.

DeKrueger said her granddaughter, who is legally blind and a student at Fruita 8/9, was thrown to the ground and thrown against a wall outside the school in January and, a few weeks ago, was hit continuously in a school hallway until she ducked into a bathroom. Although DeKrueger said the children involved were punished, none was expelled to her knowledge and the incidents have made her family consider moving her granddaughter into home-schooling.

“I said, ‘Why take our kids out?’ Let’s take the bad kids out,” she said.

Students can be expelled for assault or bullying, according to the school district.

District 51 Prevention Coordinator Cathy Haller said last week that district personnel separate disagreements from bullying based on whether one student shows clear power over another student.

Students with a peer conflict go through mediation and conflict resolution strategies, while bullies and their victims face a longer process that may include a “no contact contract,” follow-up counseling for the victim and discipline for the bully that can escalate to the level of expulsion.

Board members do not directly respond to audience comments during board meetings so there was no public response from the board to Thrall’s comments.

Board members said they had not heard about the petition before the meeting and have not received a petition document.


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