Farmington parents report string of student assaults, say they could be prevented

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Parents say administrators at Robert Boeckman Middle School in Farmington didn’t do enough to prevent violence after ignoring reported threats ahead of the attacks.

Three families talked to FOX 9, describing incidents that resulted in their children being hospitalized. In two of the cases, parents say the school was aware that their child was being bullied and didn’t do enough to prevent escalation.

"The assistant principal pulled Zoe aside and asked what was going on,” said Troy Brule. “An hour later, the school allowed both of them to go outside unsupervised and the other girl assaulted Zoe."

Brule’s eighth-grade daughter Zoe was diagnosed with a concussion after she was repeatedly punched by a classmate less than two weeks ago. The attack occurred an hour after Zoe and her teachers reported threatening messages to school administrators. 

Cathy Katzenberger and her daughter, Mady, had a similar experience after they repeatedly reported bullying to Boeckman staff.

Seventh-grade Mady describes being constantly targeted by classmates—called names, spit on, and thrown rocks at. Eventually, the bullying escalated to an incident that resulted in her being hospitalized for two weeks.

"It shouldn't have ever gotten to that point. Up until that moment, no one helped her,” said mom Cathy. "They don't really seem to want to get involved unless there's some threat of a lawyer."

In an email to FOX 9, superintendent Jay Haugen said, “I have never found a case where staff hadn’t taken appropriate action, although staff often reflect on how they could be even better.”

Haugen also said parents often interpret privacy restrictions for inaction.  

“We often cannot share what actions we are taking when in involves another student; things may be happening but we can not share,” said Haugen. “People on the outside often take this to mean nothing is happening when nothing could be further from the truth.”

In February 2018, a seventh grader named Tristan suffered a cracked skull, concussion and temporary hearing loss after an assault by a classmate. His mother says the students aren’t well supervised in the hallway or during recess. Along with the other parents, she believes lack of supervision is part of the problem.

"I don't believe there was enough people watching, otherwise I believe this would have been stopped,” said his mother Sherri. "It's like a lifeguard at a swimming pool. You have to watch the students, that's your job."

The parents believe if the school would take action as soon as threats are reported, and supervise students outside of class, these types of incidents could be avoided.

"After realizing that there's multiple incidents, there has to be something done,” said Brule. “Kids think they can get away with it."