Lincoln parents accuse district of failing to address bullying after their son was injured
The parents of a kindergartner at Model Elementary in Lincoln Consolidated Schools are accusing administrators of failing to deal with a bullying incident that left their son with a head injury.
Holly McClain said her son was diagnosed with a concussion after being pushed off a play structure at recess — an incident she said was reported to playground supervisors, but her family was never notified by the school.
Mason McClain told his father he had a rough day and didn’t feel well after he came home from school on Nov. 9.
The next day, he told his mother a fellow kindergartner at Lincoln's Model Elementary School pushed him off a play structure during recess, although the school didn't inform the McClains that occurred. Holly McClain took him to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Saline, where a doctor diagnosed him with a concussion.
Later that night, he was rushed to the University of Michigan Hospital after vomiting and not being able to formulate sentences.
After a week out of school, Mason returned on Nov. 16. Holly McClain said she asked Principal Mary Aldridge to separate the boys from the same classroom and was told that wouldn't be a problem. A few hours later, Holly McClain received a call from Aldridge telling her the same boy had punched her son in the head after they were put back in the same class.
“My son is being bullied, and the school has an obligation to protect him, and they’re not,” she said, adding Mason won't attend school until the boys are separated. “They’re willing to sweep him away instead of protect him.”
Aldridge did not return phone calls, voice messages and e-mails sent by AnnArbor.com. Superintendent Lynn Cleary also did not return messages left for her at her office and via e-mail. Repeated attempts were made to reach both at their offices for a week.
"He won't be going back there"
Holly McClain said she doesn't blame her son’s teacher — the only person from the school they've had contact with since Mason has been out of school.
“She’s the kindest woman, but her hands are tied,” she said.
Holly McClain said Mason loves school and wants to be liked by everyone. She said she asked Aldridge whether the boy who punched Mason was provoked in any way because she doesn’t allow Mason to hit people or call them names. She said no one at the school said anything like that happened.
“Everyone I’ve talked to that has come in contact with him says he’s the nicest boy and he just wants people to like him,” she said. “He’s a big boy, tall and stocky — they call him a gentle giant.”
McClain said she’s been frustrated by what she sees as a persistent defense of the boy bullying her son. She said her husband mentioned taking Mason to another school and Aldridge said, “Fine, take him out.”
She said she believes the little boy who has been bullying her son has behavioral issues, and she also doesn't place blame on him. She said it’s clear neither child is getting what they need at the school.
“The school should be helping, they have the resources to help kids like this,” she said. “I just want them to help my son and this boy also, they’re not doing this child any justice by keeping him in the situation he’s in.”
Currently, the situation remains unresolved. Mason hasn't returned to school, and his mother says she doesn’t want to move him to another school — just another class.
“I would like this boy to be removed from the class,” she said. “I can’t tell them what they need to do, but if he’s going to be in that class with my son, he won’t be going back there.”
Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.