FCUSD faces bullying allegations

Folsom mother demands safety for middle school son
By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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Folsom resident Kindra Miller claims the Folsom Cordova Unified School District didn’t take serious measures of discipline after her 12-year-old son was assaulted and put in the ICU.

Folsom Middle School seventh grader Titus White was having trouble with another student for some time, but wanted to handle it himself, Miller said.

“He didn’t like what he was hearing, which included some racial content. It was clearly an issue, but at that point, I didn’t share it with the school because he thought he could handle it on his own,” she said. “I never thought in a million years it would go this far.”

White and the student bullying him were a part of the Care Program at Folsom Middle School, which is an extra support for struggling students.

On Nov. 2, the program went on a team building field trip to Peak Adventures at Sacramento State University. After verbal insults, teasing and White attempting to remove himself from the situation, Miller said the student ran up from behind her son, grabbed and pushed him, slamming his head into a metal pole.

“He was in the pediatric ICU from a subdural hematoma, a brain bleed, and I notified the school right away,” she said. “The school told me the police did their investigation and they’re going forward with felony charges and court dates. There were witnesses who corroborated the story.”

While the police opened an investigation, Miller said the school told her they didn’t want to negatively affect the other students' education and wanted to see if the boys could work it out themselves.

“I declined that, of course,” she said. “This is a serious offense, and he needs to be expelled. The boy is more than twice my son’s size. My son has lost over a month of education because I can’t have him return to an unsafe environment. Do they expect my son to constantly be looking over his shoulder everywhere he goes?”

After much back and forth with the district, sharing her concerns, demanding her son’s safety and receiving nothing back in return, Miller contacted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which held a press conference on Dec. 3 at Folsom Middle School.

“We have repeatedly requested the student be removed from the school, so that Titus can go to school in a safe environment. A month later, with zero tolerance policy in place, the overall response from the school Superintendent, Sarah Koligian, states it’s still under investigation, which allows this student to remain on campus. I know this would be different if the roles were reserved,” said Greater Sacramento NAACP President Betty Williams.

Miller said she learned that FCUSD is on a top-20 list in California for having the most expulsions for African American Students.

“If that boy was black and my son was white, he would have been expelled immediately,” Miller said. “I want the focus on the school. While I am sad and angry at this boy, I want help for him. This can’t go on.”

In a statement from the NAACP, they believe this incident is not only a criminal offense, but rooted in and part of “hate crime.”

“Just four years ago at this same school, a dear student’s life was lost to a climate of long-term, aggressive bullying related to hate. This district’s response was to implement a zero-tolerance program that has failed. In Titus’ case, we have evidence of the father showing nooses and racially charged comments on social media,” the statement read.

The NAACP said after reviewing the social media postings, they contacted the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Since the organization’s involvement, the NAACP said the district has removed the student from shared classes.

 “Given the climate of hate in our country, the racist culture surrounding the offender, the lack of response to troubled students who take a bullying stance, and in time enough to prevent further tragedy, the NAACP vehemently opposed these remedies and demands the removal of the troubled student from the school,” the statement continued.

In the evening of Dec. 3, FCUSD released a statement in response to the community concerns.

“The District wants to be clear: What happened to this young man was terrible. Every parent wants us to keep their children from getting hurt at school, and we are sorry this happened. There is nothing more important than the physical and emotional safety of our children, and we are here to do whatever we can to help this student continue to improve and recover quickly,” the statement read. “Earlier today our District leadership met with a family advocate and leader in the NAACP, who brought forward concerns and additional information to our attention. Based on new information received, the District does not believe it asked enough questions in its review of this matter. We are ordering an outside, independent investigation into this incident so that we can ensure we're doing everything possible to support our students' needs.”

Miller said since she has spoken out, she has received dozens of messages and phone calls from parents wanting to tell her their child’s bullying story.

“For me, my son and these other parents, it’s sad. I didn’t know this many kids are experiencing this. It’s awful. I want my son to be a voice for those kids, to stand up and give them the courage to stand up for themselves,” Miller said. “My son was only trying to be strong and advocate for himself and this is the result of it.”

Since the incident, White has physically recovered.

“He is doing much better physically,” Miller said. “He still gets headaches here and there, and he wants to get back to playing basketball, but we’re working toward it.”