Mother challenges Westfield Washington Schools to be more transparent about bullying

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WESTFIELD, Ind. - A Westfield mother is taking action after she says the school administration didn't handle her daughter's bullying claim properly.

She even took two of her children out of Westfield Washington schools.

"Last May, we actually removed our youngest two children from Westfield schools after our daughter let us know that she had been being inappropriately touched by a boy in her classroom for six months," Michelle Wickham said.

Wickham says her daughter told her she informed an adult of what was happening multiple times with no action, so the family met with Westfield Middle School administration.

That's when Wickham says the real frustration started.

"I really hoped that something happened that we would all be talking about. What is a solution to this pain that my kid has endured but what I was told was that no changes in policies would occur as a result of what my child went through," Wickham said.

Westfield Washington Schools tells us student safety is their first priority and because of privacy laws, they couldn't comment on this specific case.

The statement goes on to say, "We can say that this situation was taken seriously and appropriate measures were taken by our administration. We have policies and practices that are followed when a bullying case is reported and every situation is handled immediately and dealt with based on the needs of the students involved."

Wickham says she has no confidence in that protection after what her daughter experienced. She made that known during public comment at a recent school board meeting.

Now, she's calling on more parents to also speak out.

"If the schools are unable to talk about it due to privacy rules that is going to become the screen behind which they hide whatever they can't talk about therefore, it is up to parents to talk about these really sensitive, uncomfortable issues in the public setting," Wickham said.

One state lawmaker wants better oversight when it comes to reporting school bullying.

State Rep. Greg Porter filed a bill this week encouraging districts to better report those incidents. Porter says bullying cases would not factor into the grade a school receives from the state.

The bill requires the Indiana Department of Education to send a letter to school corporations every year reminding them of the bullying reporting law. The department would also conduct a yearly statewide survey on improving bullying.

Lastly, complete an audit of school corporations to make sure bullying is accurately reported.

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