Cheney bullying complaint goes viral - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cheney bullying complaint goes viral

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Tristan Smith, 11 Tristan Smith, 11
CHENEY, Wash. - An 11-year-old's complaint against bullies at Snowdon Elementary School in Cheney has caused quite a stir on social media.

Tristan Smith says he was pushed into a pole during recess Monday and suffered facial bruising and damage to his teeth.

“I get bullied everyday almost,” Tristan said. He says he's been mocked and hit for years, on the bus and in school.

“It's just not right,” the fifth grader explained to KHQ's Gabe Cohen.

When his family spoke out Monday on social media, they drew a major following within a few hours. Not only was their story shared hundreds of times on Facebook, but it also led to the creation of a Facebook group called “Tristan's Bully Free / Friends Zone,” which as of Thursday had nearly 5,000 members.

“It's amazing to see what's happened,” Lisa Barker, Tristan's mother, said. “This issue is not resolved, and needs to be taken seriously.”

Tristan's mother, Lisa Barker, told KHQ her greatest concern was that no one from Snowdon Elementary School contacted her family after the incident Monday. She says she only found out 7 hours later, after Tristan arrived home with one of his front teeth was cracked and his face scratched and bruised.

“I should have been called immediately,” Barker said. “The school is claiming it was an accident. Well, I still should have been called.”

She says he suffered major damage to his teeth, and a dentist told the family they need to watch for infection.

 But Superintendent Debora Clemens says they followed protocol, which only requires a nurse to assess whether or not a call needs to be made.

“She didn't feel it was that serious,” Clemens said. “So she didn't [call].”

The Cheney School district refutes Tristan's claim that Monday's incident was a case of bullying. After conducting an investigation, they determined the collision between Tristan and another fifth grader was accidental. They met with the other students involved and reviewed a wide-angled surveillance video of the playground before making that determination.

“We have a no tolerance policy around bullying,” Superintendent Debora Clemens said. “We want to make sure if a child has a negative interaction they know they can come to a caring adult.” Superintendent Clemens said this is the first time Tristan has come forward to administration about an incident of bullying, though the 11-year-old said he has told teachers and his school bus driver, but nothing was ever done.

Either way, the boy had a clear message for students and parents in Cheney: “You shouldn't bully people,” Tristan said. “I don't know if it's going to stop.”
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