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Mother stands up against bullying, shares daughter’s experience

A Coachella Valley mom is taking a stand against bullying after her daughter had been bullied at school.

Mayra Velarde says her 13-year-old daughter is an 8th grader at Nellie Coffman Middle School in Cathedral City. She’s talked to her daughter’s principal, the Palm Springs Unified School District, and even filed a police report with the Palm Springs Police Department.

One (bully) said, with a lot of profanity, that they were going to break her leg and beat her with it, and they were going to take her crutches that she was using that day…and beat her with that,” Velarde said.

Velarde says she picked up her 13-year-old daughter from the principal’s office. The alleged bullies weren’t questioned until the following day. They were eventually put on a contact ordinance, which prohibit the two parties from speaking. Velarde says the ordinance didn’t stop the bullies from striking again.

“It stopped for about a week then it started; the taunting, they were mimicking her, and making gestures toward her,” Velarde said.

After a visit to the Palm Springs Unified School District, Velarde says she was given a few options.

“I sat down and explained her (victim) situation and they (PSUSD representatives) said she did have options. She has the grades to finish home schooling and I got very emotional and I got upset because to uproot her life is not fair,” Velarde said.

Anne Kalisek, the Executive Director for Student Support Services at PSUSD couldn’t comment on the specific incident but says the district takes bullying seriously.

“The parent’s just have to trust us that we are going through the progressive disciplinary policy and that we’re working our way through the system and if it gets to the point where the student needs to be suspended or expelled, it will happen. They just have to trust that we’re doing our job,” Kalisek said.

Dimitri Halkidis is the president of an anti-bullying organization called Boo to Bullying. He sees cases like Velarde’s everyday.

“We say report it once, report it twice, report it until someone hears. Every seven minutes a kid gets bullied. That’s a lot. There’s 160,000 kids who miss out in school. Here in the Valley almost 50 percent of the students don’t go back to school because of bullying,” Halkidis said.

“It’s a serious case and a lot of kids don’t like to speak up about it cause they think they’ll be bullied more..and most cases that is the way it is. But she’s trying to be a voice and stand up and let it know that it shouldn’t be tolerated,” Velarde said.

To find out more about preventing bullying click here.

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