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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sask. school division and student deny claim amputee child was bullied

REGINA —" A school division and another student are disputing the story of a Saskatchewan
 father who says his five-year-old amputee son was bullied and assaulted on a school bus.

"We have a number of facts that differ greatly from the account provided publicly," the Prairie
 South School Division said in a statement Wednesday.

However, the division said, privacy law forbids it from commenting in detail about the situation.

Robert Coomber's son, Ryan, who has a prosthetic leg following an accident two years ago,
 has been riding the bus from the rural community of Willow Bunch in southern Saskatchewan,
 to his pre-kindergarten class since September.

Coomber recently said he has had ongoing concerns about his son being bullied on the bus,
 but that the situation came to a head on May 4, when his son came home with a black eye."

"He said one of the older kids had yelled at Ryan to shut up and punched him in the eye.

He alleged the child who punched Ryan was "13 or 14" years old and "six-foot" tall, Coomber
 said, noting his understanding is Ryan was punched "because he was singing on the bus too loud."

But Grade 10 student Jessica Crawford — who rides the same bus as Ryan —
 described a very different set of circumstances.

"None of this has happened," she said.

"We've all been raised in good homes," she said of the students on the bus. "We've all
been raised with good morals and values. Do you honestly think a bus full of children
 would sit back and watch this little boy be bullied like that day after day? That's what I
don't understand."

Crawford said her recollection is that Ryan was never struck in the eye.

The RCMP took a report after Coomber called them following the alleged incident. But the
 file was closed at the request of the complainant so the RCMP cannot comment on it,
a spokeswoman said.

Read more:

So now we have another side to this situation which happened on the bus. 
Which one are we to believe? The fact remains
that Ryan Coomber went to school that day and did not have a black eye, 
and at the end of the day he did.So
how did he get it, if it wasn't due to this buillying incident, and why if this 
bullying did or did not take place are some of 
the participants in this situation not being honest about what happened on
 the bus? And why, if Ryan was bullied and 
hit in the eye did he and his parents not chose to press criminal charges
 in this matter?

I just found this information online:

Lawyers Get Involved
Thursday, 13 May 2010

"Ryan Coomber used to ride the bus from Willow Bunch to Assiniboia 
It's a classic case of he said, she said and now lawyers have been called.

Wednesday, we brought you the story of Ryan Coomber. The five-year-old
Willow Bunch boy has allegedly been bullied on his school bus, his father
has been telling media all over the province that a 13 year old gave his son
 a black eye.

"A lawyer representing that 13 year old has contacted us, saying
such an assault never happened. In addition to that, a prepared
 statement on the Prairie South School Division website says they
have facts that differ greatly from what is being reported by Mr. Coomber."

RCMP confirm there was an incident, but say charges were never laid.
Attempts to contact Robert Coomber for his reaction to these developments
have been unsuccessful."

A school board statement about this "incident" can be read at the following website:

Well, I guess we can determine what really happened in this situation can't we?
Here is a more recent news article about this situation:

School officials let son down over bullying on bus: father

Coomber called the RCMP and an officer came and took statements
 and photographs. But the family and the officer 
decided against charging the child who is alleged to have
 punched Ryan, Coomber said. Instead, Coomber decided to
 raise his concerns with school officials.
He contacted the bus driver, the principal, a superintendent and
members of the Prairie South school division board
 of education, as well as provincial politicians, he said.
However, he said he did not receive a satisfactory response.
Coomber said the superintendent suggested the division
 would pay for costs of the Coombers themselves driving
Ryan and his sister to school. In the last week, Coomber
 and his wife have had several conflicts with school officials, RCMP
 and other parents and have received "zero"
support from the community, he said.
Coomber said he has spoken with a lawyer, but decided to raise the
 issue in the media before proceeding with any
 legal action. He wants the driver, the principal, the superintendent
and other school officials to resign from their
positions. He said the family was "let down at each step."
The RCMP would not comment Tuesday.
Prairie South school division spokesperson Dawn Blaus said Tuesday
under the Local Authority Freedom
 of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a school division is
 forbidden from commenting publicly about
a specific student's situation even when a parent has spoken publicly.
In general, the school division has policies and procedures in place at
school and division levels to ensure
schools are safe and caring environments, she said. Anti-bullying
 policies have been developed in collaboration
with school community councils and in conjunction with provincial
 strategies, she said. The division also has
partnered with the Red Cross to deliver that organization's anti-bullying training.
There also are processes in place to resolve student and parent concerns
and parents are encouraged to follow
those processes, Blaus said. In a situation that involves a school bus,
 parents are encouraged to talk first to the
 driver or the principal. If the situation is not resolved, a parent can contact
 the superintendent or the transport manager.
The next step, if a parent is not satisfied, is to appeal to the director of
education or the school board.
"Student safety is always our priority," Blaus said.
Education Minister Ken Krawetz was asked by reporters following
 question period on Tuesday about
Coomber's concerns.
"The position that we have is that we want to ensure that there are safe,
 caring and respectful schools
-- that's No. 1," Krawetz said, adding school divisions have policies in
place around anti-bullying strategies.
"In this case, the Prairie South board of education is going to be
 looking at the incident, the circumstances,
 the families, and are doing an investigation. So until that is complete, I don't
 think the board of education
will be jumping to any conclusions.
"The short-term solution, I guess, was to ensure that there would be
no further antagonism between
 students and to ensure that the parents were able to drive the
 student to school."

Read more:

I have found an even more recent article about the situation:

Bullied boy, 5, barred from bus, father says

Mulls Lawsuit; School, RCMP did not deal with complaint, he says

A five-year-old Saskatchewan boy who lost a leg and now walks with a 
prosthetic limb has been bullied off his school bus, his father says.
Rather than confront the bullies and their parents to stop the harassment,
 the Prairie South School Division instead told the boy he wouldn't be allowed
 to take the bus anymore, Robert Coomber says.
"It's just a shame that in his five years, he has to be a victim over and over again,"
 Mr. Coomber told CBC of his son Ryan, who lost his left leg in a lawn tractor 
accident in 2008.
He said his son has been riding the bus from the family's home in the small 
town of Willow Bunch, Sask., to preschool in Assiniboia, about 40 kilometres
 away, for the past eight months and had experienced bullying before, mainly
 because of his prosthetic

Despite calling the RCMP and attempting to speak to the parents of the
 other students on the bus, Mr. Coomber says he got no satisfactory answers.
When he then approached the bus driver and the school's principal, he 
was referred to the school division.
"I asked for the child to be disciplined," he told CBC.
"I asked for him to be suspended from school [to] teach him a lesson 
because there's a zero tolerance for bullying.
"[But instead] we were told Ryan will no longer be on the bus, that it's 
not safe for him or my daughter and that we have to drive them the round trip."
He said the superintendent suggested the school division pay for the cost 
of the Coombers driving Ryan and his sister to school.
Mr. Coomber has now asked for the resignations of the bus driver, 
principal, and the superintendent, saying his family was "let down at each step."
He is also considering taking legal action against the school division.
Dawn Blaus, a spokeswoman for the Prairie South School Division, told
 the National Post that a local privacy act prevented her from discussing individual student concerns.
However, she said, "we definitely take any reports of bullying seriously."
A statement posted on the school division's website yesterday said it had a 
"number of facts that differ greatly from the account provided publicly."
"As a school division, we do not try to resolve concerns through the media,"
 the statement said.
"The investigation may confirm the report or it may refute it. Either way, we
 don't talk about it in the media and we don't share the information with anyone
 beyond those who are permitted and required to have it."
The school division said many of its schools had participated in 
anti-bullying and anti-violence projects.
On Tuesday, Ken Krawetz, Saskatchewan's Education Minister, told 
reporters after Question Period at the legislature that bus drivers are 
responsible for keeping passengers safe.
"The position that we have is that we want to ensure that there are safe,
 caring and respectful schools -- that's No. 1," he said.
"In this case the Prairie South board of education is going to be looking
 at the incident, the circumstances, the families and are doing an investigation,"
 he said.
"So, until that is complete, I don't think the board of education will be jumping
 to any conclusions.
"The short-term solution, I guess, was to ensure that there would be no 
further antagonism between students and to ensure that the parents 
were able to drive the student to school."

Read more:


It looks like the bully has won this round doesn't it, because he
 is allowed to remain on the bus while Ryan 
has to find another way to get to school!

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.