School Board Stonewalls Investigation
Deborah and Brian Betz of Sunbury came to us with details of a serious assault by a teacher, which they say took place at the Middle School earlier this year, on Friday February 21st, when their son Isaiah, only 13 and small for his age, was violently pushed into a door with such force that he sustained an enormous gash to his head – leaving 2 pints of his blood all over the school floor and requiring the insertion of 9 staples at the hospital emergency room.
The school did not call 911 to request either medical or police assistance, and failed to even alert the parents about this incident. The school nurse did not appear willing to offer medical aid, but instead sent Isaiah to the washroom to clean up his wound all by himself!
The Betz family has been trying to achieve closure to the incident by asking for answers from the School Board, but as you will see from the video link, they have been constantly stone-walled.
Serious Control Issues
Mrs. Betz told us she believes that the teacher who allegedly carried out the assault, Mrs. Abbe G. Statteson, has serious control issues. Her son says he had never seen her before and did not even know her name.
According to numerous witness statements we have seen, it all began with another youth riding his scooter down a ramp provided for disabled access. This was at 2:30 pm as the school was closing. Mrs. Statteson is said to have yelled at him to stop and Isaiah made a jocular remark to the other youth which she overheard. She then turned on him and demanded he apologize. He said he did not know what he was supposed to have done but apologized anyway.
His apology did not seem to placate Mrs. Statteson who, witnesses said, began to remonstrate loudly, screaming and shouting at the boy. Isaiah again said he did not know what he was supposed to have done, but apologized once more, and then said he had to go, as he was going to miss his ride.
Around this time, another teacher, Mrs. Jessica Knopp, is said to have appeared on the scene and together with her colleague, they blocked the school exit, not letting Isaiah leave, while badgering him and asking him if they should send him to the principal’s office, and demanding further apologies from him. Once again we are told that he asked them what exactly it was he had done, and they did not or could not answer.
Isaiah, still not sure what all the fuss was about, was lacking any clear instructions from the two teachers as to what he was supposed to do. Furthermore, he stated that he was becoming increasingly upset and humiliated by their bullying and intimidation, and was starting to cry. Worried about missing his ride, he tried to duck under Mrs. Statteson’s arm, but as he did so he felt her hit him on the back of his head with her elbow and then, using her hip, propel him with force into the glass door.
Isaiah, bleeding profusely and by now in shock, is said to have screamed at Mrs. Statteson “My f***ing head, it hurts so bad. Look what you did to me.” Mrs. Statteson was then heard to say that he had brought it on himself, and Mrs. Knopp to have told him to watch his mouth. According to onlookers, neither of them appeared remotely concerned at his injury or obvious distress, or offered to help him in any way.
His friends were left to get him to the nursing station. They said that Mrs. Statteson followed them there. Rather than let the nurse attend to the injuries, she remonstrated with her about what she claimed Isaiah had done. The nurse sent him to the washroom by himself, trailing blood as he went, to try to clean up. Such actions from someone employed as a nurse seem, to us, inexplicable. For all she knew, Isaiah could have easily had life threatening injuries such as a fractured skull or possibly been developing a blood clot. He was certainly suffering from a severe loss of blood.
Lack of Official Communication
Mrs. Betz got three closely spaced calls on her cell phone, all from friends of Isaiah who sounded frightened and shaken. She was told that something had happened to Isaiah’s head and that there was blood everywhere, and that she should come to the school right away. They were all panicking, so one can only imagine the thoughts which passed through her mind as she rushed there in her car.
When she arrived she noticed blood splatters on the cement in front of the school doors and inside she found a much larger trail of blood reminiscent, she remarked, of a murder scene, which led her to the nurse’s station. She was beyond terrified and confused. She found Isaiah sitting there in a chair, his head wrapped in a large bandage soaked with blood. His face was very pale and blood-stained.
At this point Mrs. Betz, understandably, became very agitated and upset, and yelled at the nurse demanding to know who had done this to her child. She wanted to know the whereabouts of the perpetrator, and someone informed her that the teacher concerned had left the building.
Mr. Jackson, the high school principal, was at the door of the nurse’s station as she came out. He had just heard about the incident and was on the scene to investigate. He was accompanied by an (unidentified) woman, who proceeded to tell Deb that a teacher did not cause her son’s injuries, and then admitted that she had not seen the incident. Mr. Jackson took over, calmed Deb down and helped her get her son to her car in order to transport him to the E.R. Deb was fulsome in her praise for his actions and the professional way in which he dealt with the situation.
Later that day, when they returned to retrieve Isaiah’s backpack from the school, it appeared that someone had rummaged through it. Also his phone was locked, indicating attempted unauthorized access, possibly with the idea of deleting the many photographs which had been taken of his injuries.
The following Monday, Mrs. Betz attended a meeting at the School District Administrative Offices. Also in attendance were Superintendent Kelley, Middle School Principal Dr. Murphy Kaun and Principal Jackson.
- They could not explain why the teacher had reacted the way in which she did.
- They could give no valid reason for the teacher distracting the nurse, nor for her son being left to his own devices in the washroom rather than being given any medical assistance. His only help from the nurse was when she bandaged his head after he had tried to clean it up by himself.
- They could not answer questions about why the teacher was allowed to leave the building without, apparently, having to offer any kind of explanation for her actions.
- They could not explain why the teacher had not been suspended, and why she had been allowed to return to school and, as Mrs. Betz alleged, had been overheard preparing her defense by coaching other members of staff and students on her version of events. Isaiah, it was now being claimed, had tripped and fallen over a cart!
- When asked, they did not appear to know what an incident report was, never mind whether or not one had been filed.
- They admitted to having no policy in place for dealing with head injuries at the school.
On the Thursday of that week, Mrs. Betz had a meeting with Children and Youth. They were very clear about the school’s responsibilities. According to their officer, Tracy McCloud, the school was duty bound to contact the police department following this type of incident. Superintendent Kelley had admitted that the police were not called.
Kelley’s priorities would seem to lie in protecting the school’s reputation, something apparently more important to him than the safety of the students. Schools with excessive police intervention, which are then deemed to be dangerous by the Department of Education, suffer from large cuts in state and other funding. Such cuts would also impact greatly on any perks which may currently be enjoyed by members of the beleaguered board. School safety should be of paramount importance to them, and something to be addressed publicly, rather than joining the many other problems that they appear so adept at brushing under the rug.
The Betz family did not want to go down this route. As can be seen from the above, Mrs. Betz tried repeatedly to get answers to her questions. She was trying to gain an understanding of the event in the hope that it could be rationalized and then closed. In this aim she has been thwarted at every turn. Now they have engaged an attorney and intend to sue those responsible, not for the money, but to bring out into the open exactly what has been going on inside the walls of our schools, and in the firm hope that, in future, no other students or local families will be subjected to such inhumane and inexcusable treatment.
Take Back Our School District
In recent months our school district and board have been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. If you too are sick and tired of reading about everything which is wrong with this dysfunctional organization, then now is your time to act. Deb Betz wants to contact like-minded people interested in taking back our school district, some as potential board members, to run for the 5 seats which will become vacant in 2015, and others to lend their support to the campaign.
To find out more please use our “Contact Us” form, giving a phone number and/or email address, and your details will be passed on to Mrs. Betz.