Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun, May 6, 2010
Eight-year-old Lyric Elliott says life at her Scarborough school has been an absolute nightmare for the last 18 months thanks to bullies who refuse to leave her alone and an education system that has done too little to protect her.
Now, after 163 visits to the office at William Tredway Junior Public School–and repeated pleas to school staff to keep her daughter safe–the young girl’s mother has decided “enough is enough.
“I pulled her out of school last week,” Jacqueline Elliott told the Toronto Sun Wednesday. “I just couldn’t take it any more.”
She said the final straw came last Thursday when five boys pushed Lyric to the ground, then poked and prodded her with sticks.
“She was bruised and scratched from head to toe,” Jacqueline said of her daughter’s injuries.
Lyric said she loved going to school before she, her baby sister and mom fled an abusive situation in Calgary and moved to the Markham Rd. and Lawrence Ave. E. area in 2008.
But now she’s simply terrified because of the constant harassment she claims she faces.
“It happens just about every day,” the soft-spoken youngster said of the abuse she has allegedly endured. “It’s a bad dream that I can’t wake up from.”
Lyric now has nightmares quite regularly because of the bullying. All she wants is to go to school and feel safe.
“Just stop bullying me and leave me alone,” Lyric said, reaching out to her alleged abusers. “They think it’s funny when they see me cry or get hurt.”
The little girl said she believes her fellow students single her out “because I’m white.” Her mother said she couldn’t help wonder if race was a factor when Lyric came home from the predominantly black school asking to take a bath.
“I asked her why and she told me it was because the kids were calling her a ‘dirty white girl,'” added Jacqueline, who added that several members of her family are African-Canadian.
In one of the worst incidents, Lyric’s mother claims three first-grade boys threw Lyric on the ground and took turns “dry humping her.”
“Only one of the boys was suspended,” Jacqueline said. “I was told the other two hadn’t been in any trouble before.”
Despite the recent passing of Bill 157 by the province, which is suppose to combat bullying by requiring school staff to file a report on all such incidents, the frustrated mom insisted she has had difficulty getting action.
Jacqueline said there are about five kids, girls and boys, who are terrorizing her daughter. She said she complained to the principal more than 40 times about one girl before her parents were finally notified.
And Jacqueline added she was told by school staff there is no point in suspending the bullies because they would just consider it “a holiday.”
Tired of fighting with Lyric every morning and “dragging” her to school only to have her call home part way through the day claiming to be sick, Jacqueline is now refusing to bring her daughter back to William Tredway even though she could face legal ramifications for withdrawing her child from school.
The mom said she has spoken to the school principal countless times; she has called Toronto Police but they can’t lay charges because the alleged bullies are under 12 years old; education ministry officials told her she must contact her school’s superintendent; and the superintendent, Kerry-Lynn Stadnyk, has told her the principal is dealing with it.
Jacqueline said she has made more than 100 calls to Stadnyk, but she has only actually spoken to her a handful of times.
“I’ve asked many times to meet with her and she won’t,” Jacqueline contended.
However, after a Sun reporter called the Toronto District School Board Wednesday, Jacqueline said she suddenly received a call from Stadnyk offering to meet with her next week.
She said they spoke for 45 minutes on the phone.
A TDSB spoeksman said Stadnyk was unavailable for comment until Thursday.