Mother asks for more awareness after daughter arrested for punching bully
JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - It’s still a waiting game for one Jones County family, as they fight to put a stop to alleged bullying.
WDAM 7 has been investigating this ongoing situation since November and has worked to talk to all parties involved. The family told WDAM this is not only impacting the daughter’s well-being but also her education.
“I wish that people would treat everybody equally,” said 13-year-old Keedra West. “Like, treat someone how you want to be treated.”
That’s a message West is pleading to her peers at Northeast Jones Middle School.
“They started calling her ‘granny,’ ‘grandma,’ ‘saggy cans,’ referring to her breast,” said West’s mother, Latisha Pacley. “The girl told her she had long breasts like her grandma.”
Pacley said her daughter has been getting bullied for a while, and on Nov. 10, 2022, that situation took a turn.
“I fussed her out and asked her if she did call me a name, and she denied it at first,” said West. “And then she was like, ‘O.K., yeah, I said that,’ and she said, ‘Are you going to hit me,’ and I said, ‘Yes, I will hit you,’ then she told me to.”
After that one punch, West ended up in the office and then in handcuffs shortly after, making her way to the Jones County Detention Center.
“About nine-ish towards 10 o’clock, I’m in the car, I’m headed to work, and I get a phone call from Northeast Jones High School,” said Pacley. “It’s a principal on the phone, and what I was told was that, ‘I have some bad news, sorry to call you under these circumstances.’
I was like, ‘O.K. what has happened.’ She says, ‘Keedra is on her way to the detention center, the juvenile detention center.’ I’m like, ‘What!? Wait a minute, what’s going on?”
WDAM 7 reached out to the Jones County School District multiple times to discuss what happened. However, superintendent Tommy Parker refused to talk on camera but did share some information over the phone.
Parker stated per their policy, the youth court requires the school to contact the court anytime a potential crime occurs on campus depending on the severity of the crime. As far as the parent being notified, he said that’s done when the youth court decides to take the student into custody.
But according to Pacley, that didn’t happen.
“I was mad,” said Keedra’s mom. “Y’all call me two hours after. Why y’all didn’t call me when the incident happened?”
The superintendent eventually directed us to the district’s handbook, where we only found one section involving law enforcement which centered around them interviewing students. It states:
Prior to a law enforcement official interviewing a minor child, the school administrator will first inform parents of the request.
It also states that an adult representing the minor must be present. And Tommy Parker said this is a different policy.
“I actually spoke to the judge himself, and we talked about Keedra,” Pacley said. “He said, ‘Does Keedra have a mental disability health problem,’ and I said, ‘Yes sir, she does.’ And he said, ‘Come get your baby,’ and that’s what he told me, and that’s what I did.”
Pacley said the judge dismissed the upcoming hearings, but the school district did require Keedra to spend 45 days in alternative school. Which is the district’s policy according to the superintendent.
Pacley said she’s not only saddened her daughter is experiencing bullying but more so upset about how the district has handled it this far.
“Something needs to be done,” Pacley said. “Bring awareness to bullying. Bullying is not caused by one person, it can be caused by multiple people. I don’t want her at the alternative school.”
The handbook states:
The district does not condone and will not tolerate bullying or harassing behavior.” “Any student, school employee or volunteer who feels he/she has been a victim of bullying or witnessed bullying shall report such conduct to a teacher, principal, counselor, or other school official.
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