Parents, students rally for policy change following reports of v - FOX Carolina 21

Parents, students rally for policy change following reports of violence at school

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SENECA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

School may be out for the summer, but some students say their problems within the halls are far from on vacation. 

Parents worried about their students at Seneca Middle School brought their concerns to FOX Carolina after claiming there have been several incidents of violence. The school said when it comes to fighting, they have a zero-tolerance policy. 

"The first incident, the girl walked up to me and slapped me, and then the second one, she ran up behind me and pulled out some of my hair and started sucker punching me in the eye," one student said. 

"There was a bigger kid who grabbed him by the throat and was choking him. When I got over there, my friend's face had turned purple. That actually ended up going to court," another student explained.

One student claims she hides in the bathroom almost every day.

"I just want to give up and go away," the student explained.

These students from Oconee County have chosen to remain anonymous. They said they're afraid the issues they've been  facing will only get worse.    

"They say you can go eat lunch here, or hide out here. Pretty much live as prisoner in school and walk the halls and be afraid. Kids shouldn't be afraid of going to school," attorney and parent advocate Roberta Barton said.  

These parents, and Barton, who is advocating on their behalf, said students are facing several issues - anything from physical attacks to threatening text messages from other students at Seneca Middle School. 

"I've even received an anonymous letter expressing the frustration they felt because of the bullying their child is facing and they're afraid of retaliation," Barton said.  

These parents have gotten together several times. At one diversity meeting, they brought issues with the student conduct code to some of the school's administration staff, expressing frustration about the self-defense aspect.

"If they defend themselves in any manner, they're penalized as well. That penalty can carry over, where if you want to go to a different school, so it puts them into a no-win situation," Barton explained. 

 The school administration said at that meeting that they were listening to the concerns, and plan to revisit the issue at a later date to determine if the conduct code needs to be revised.  

Seneca Middle School Al LeRoy explained the school has a zero tolerance for violence that matches up with state and district rules. LeRoy explained there are programs in place to help students deal with bullying, but further discussions may need to happen ahead of the coming school year.

"Obviously both sides need help, said Edda Cammick, Chairwoman of the Oconee County Council. "Those that are bullying and those that are being bullied."

Cammick has attended these meetings with the concerned parents and said more may need to be done to ensure students feel safe in class.

"We need to get the word out there," said Cammick. "We need to push the administration to hit this head on." 

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