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Oct 5, 2011 9:31 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Public Criticizes Southampton School District Over Student Bullying

Oct 5, 2011 1:00 PM

A group of irate parents blasted Southampton School District officials on Tuesday night, saying they turned a blind eye to pervasive bullying among students—with some community members going as far as comparing the district’s handling of the issues to pre-Columbine levels, and others of the predominantly black and Native American group claiming that minority students were disciplined more harshly than white students.

Southampton Superintendent of Schools Dr. J. Richard Boyes dismissed the claims, saying the district treats all students the same. As for bullying, Dr. Boyes said administrators were concerned about the claims but felt that the parents might have exaggerated the problem based on one incident. He said they would look into the allegations, however.

The criticism stemmed in part from an incident in which a father tried to protect his high school student son from bullies during a recent occurrence, which resulted in the son’s suspension from school.

Daniel Claud’s son, Daniel Claud Jr., is a junior at Southampton High School. According to the Clauds, who are black and Native American, the 16-year-old has been relentlessly bullied by several students over the past year and a half, causing him to fear for his safety. The bullying has also hurt his academic performance. The attacks have included verbal and physical abuse, such as being held in chokeholds and having his head slammed against lockers, Mr. Claud said after addressing the Southampton School Board at a board meeting on Tuesday night—at which family, friends and even a teaching assistant in the district and a former School Board candidate urged district officials to do better.

The most recent episode took place on September 23, the Clauds said. On that Friday, a senior taunted Dan Claud Jr. with obscenities and threatened to fight him. Dan called his father to report that he felt endangered, and his father, in turn, emailed members of the administration in a plea for help. He got no response, he said.

About four hours later, the bully repeated his verbal threats and tried to get Dan to go into an empty classroom to fight, the Clauds said. When the boy advanced aggressively toward him, Dan hit him, in what he and his father said was self-defense. Dan was suspended from school for more than a week. The other boy fought back, leaving bruises and marks on Dan, but he was not suspended, Mr. Claud said.

Mr. Claud, who said his heritage is both African-American and Cherokee, scolded the district for disciplining Native American and black students more harshly—with more frequent and longer suspensions, for example—than other children for similar offenses.

“I stand before you tonight because the unequal treatment must stop,” Mr. Claud told the board. “Protecting some of our children and not all of our children must stop. The disrespect directed to us as parents will not be tolerated any longer.”

He singled out High School Principal Dr. Timothy Mundell. “My child has suffered at the hands of the leadership of the principal in the high school,” Mr. Claud said.

Dr. Mundell was present at Tuesday’s meeting but did not speak. Dr. Boyes said the administration could not comment publicly on individual students or incidents because of privacy laws.

After more than 30 minutes of public comment, School Board President David Dubin moved to resume the board’s regularly scheduled agenda—but Roberta Hunter, the board’s only minority member, stopped him, saying that the public deserved a response in some fashion.

“It’s very difficult to respond in any type of detail,” Dr. Boyes told Tuesday’s audience. “It’s an incident that has bothered people. People have some information on it, but clearly they don’t have all the information. I’m not saying that even if you did, that would change your perception of things, because I think people have some deeply rooted beliefs.”

In a written statement Dr. Boyes prepared after the meeting, he said that the district took action in the recent case based on statements from staff members who were present at the time of the incident, and after viewing security videotape. He added that even the most honest investigations may end up with conflicting points of view, since it is difficult to know the exact exchanges that took place before a physical act.

He said he was concerned that people were extrapolating from one incident a claim that the problem was districtwide—a point disputed by community members who claimed, for example, that Dan Claud Jr. has been bullied multiple times.

“I take this very seriously,” Dr. Boyes said. “I think it’s real. The question is, how pervasive is it?” He offered to have the board meet privately with individual parents to address the issue.

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I was bullied to a much lesser degree for being an easy target as I was extremely shy. I am thankful I was a student prior to cyberbulling. Bullying has always been around, and it is no joke. Students, teachers, administrators, and FAMILIES all have to take action in controlling/ending the same. I taught nursery school children for many years and witnessed many three-year old bullies. Bullying in any form should not be tolerated, and this needs to be instilled in children within the home at ...more
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Oct 5, 11 4:20 PM
blah..blah..blah.. When is this district going to stop covering up with band-aids and lies. From the "top dog" down to the principals and V.P.'s. Where is the accountability? The transparency? There is so much cover-up because of fear. This Board was voted in by our community. They need to step up out of their comfort zone, and make the changes necessary to protect our children. Stop the nonsense and take responsibility Dr. Boyes.
By SESmom (5), Southampton on Oct 5, 11 4:55 PM
2 members liked this comment
the Claud's name are mentioned very often in the article but how come no name on the" Senior "who picked the fight which led to the Claud boy being expelled for a week?
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Oct 5, 11 5:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
The more things change the more things stay the same, but a least people are speaking up now. I hope they continue to speak up. There has always been a difference in the way minority students are treated in the Southampton School District. Of course the Superintendent would deny it but since he is new to the area he really can’t speak to it. He can only speak to what happens on his watch.

Years ago, the High School Band took a trip to Florida I think, and as happens on these kinds ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 5, 11 6:19 PM
3 members liked this comment
always takes two to tango why is only one ever in trouble??
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Oct 5, 11 7:03 PM
because kids who bully are sneaky. They know what they are doing is WRONG. They do it in front of teachers who dont care or dont want to be involved. This is whats happened to my son in Hampton Byas. Since kindergarten I have been asking for help from every administration. Finally when he struck back he was suspended and forced into a psych eval. I have even had a teacher call him a retard. Yet when the principal asked him he said he never said it. What was he going to say??? Principals answer....My ...more
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Oct 5, 11 8:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
As a parent of a child who was constantly bullied thru grade school and part of middle school, I say to the parents out there, its our job to protect our kids at all costs. I had repeated talks with staff and the assistant principal at SIS regarding my child and this bully. I even went to the parents of the bully. We all came up with a plan that helped my child. My child now feels safe and secure going to school when he once was too afraid to attend, it affected his grades and self esteem but slowly ...more
By NativeWoman (18), southampton on Oct 5, 11 8:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
As a former student in Southampton High School (graduated last year) I can definitely say I have seen discrimination in that school. Whether it is discrimination between race or wealth, I have seen it first hand. Last year I can definitely say I feared for my safety at that school, there was probably an average of 4 fights for week, something the former principal Mr. Fine would have NEVER stood for. Mundell, in my eyes as a student, was a poor principal, he never took the front hand, always sat ...more
By Southampton810 (10), Southampton on Oct 5, 11 8:31 PM
and what might your name be? it is okay for you to make remarks about people familys but you hide behind a screen name. wealth has nothing to do with this issue, we live in one of the most affluent areas of the country. People go out every day and try to better their lives nothing wrong with trying to better the community and boost the local economy. and their are always two sides to every story.
By twudyka10 (1), Southampton on Oct 6, 11 12:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
it is alright for her to make remarks about people actually. and it probably isn't the best defense for you to come on aggressively towards a recent high school graduate who has every right to post here.
By kaluss45 (44), southampton on Oct 6, 11 12:16 PM
First off,
1. "And" is not how you start a sentance.
2. Punctuation is your friend...
3. As is correct grammar.

There are absolutely two sides to every story. That I agree with you on, however... You as a parent (possibly), should know better and take the high road when dealing when kids. THAT among other things.. is your job. YOU are an adult.. you should be responsible enough to not only discipline your child.. BUT yourself as well in regards to your response to the recent ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Oct 6, 11 1:08 PM
3 members liked this comment
You are correct, this is not about wealth or the lack there of. It’s about a bully who obviously learned his behavior at home.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 6, 11 3:05 PM
He did learn his behavior at home, seeing as how his brother is becoming so defensive VIA internet comments towards me..
Until you go in that school and spend a day in the assistant principals office none of you will understand. Every student who walks in there to be punished takes everything as a joke, and the administrators usually respond in the same matter. From spending a lot of time in the AP office last year (not for trouble, to speak with the dean of students for personal problems) ...more
By Southampton810 (10), Southampton on Oct 6, 11 8:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
Oops.. thought it was a parent coming to the defense of their child.. wasn't aware that the responder was his brother..

Regardless, respect and common sense have gone down the toilet.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Oct 7, 11 2:32 PM
FYI, there is no 'a' in sentence. Run a spell check before professing to be an authority on grammar.
By turnco02 (2), Bridgehampton on Oct 9, 11 10:24 AM
My sincerest apologies... Never "professed to be an authority on grammar."

And that's all you can say, hmm? Figures that this whole bullying thing wouldn't bother you, since that's the crux of this story and also indicative of your response. But hey, to each their own. G'head and teach your kids what you just said to me! Allow them to be able to switch topics when things get uncomfortable! Denial: not only a river that flows backwards in Egypt.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Oct 12, 11 3:21 PM
NOOOO......not in the home of the Hampton's Father of the year!!
This can't be true.....ha ha ha.....Nice parenting going on there eh?
By kzcallaway (2), new york on Oct 31, 11 4:12 PM

By kzcallaway (2), new york on Oct 31, 11 4:14 PM
With over 500 kids in the high school, all trying to cope with hormones and growing up, there will always be some who will make wrong decisions and act badly. School representatives absolutely need to take any calls for help from a parent seriously to avert possible danger to a student. I have seen the school go well above and beyond in situations that never appear in the paper. I have also seen it do some spectacularly dumb things. Unfortunately, one of those was to suspend a group of kids after ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Oct 6, 11 12:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
it doesn't always ''take two to tango'' when you are dealing with a bully and children...what a misinformed and flippant statement. it is a damn shame that this poor young man had to use force to fend off bullies who learn this stuff at home.
By kaluss45 (44), southampton on Oct 6, 11 12:14 PM
3 members liked this comment
Like all else.. it starts in the home. Kids are like sponges... they absorb so much. Why don't we as the "responsible" adults stop turning a blind eye, and hold ourselves AND our kids responsible?
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Oct 6, 11 12:51 PM
2 members liked this comment
I have taken the time to read all the comments, which is refreshing to see there is at least an ongoing dialogue about this FOREVER topic. I have been here in southampton for let's say A LONG TIME..LOL..lived here in the beautiful Village of Southampton which took me many years to appreciate travel and coming back...(referring to the ocean etc) but I also experienced some STRAIGHT UP RACISM that to this day when I have openly share in "different" company would rather not believe it. I hear over ...more
By MsB (17), Southampton on Oct 7, 11 11:18 AM
Why do you automatically think that the bumper stickers about Obama were due to racism and not a difference in political opinions? There have been people for and against EVERY president in our nation's history. Why should Obama be treated any differently just because he is black? Wouldn't that be racist?

I'm not trying to get into a political, racial, or economic debate. I am just soooo tired of people blaming everything on racism and/or wealth.
By S'hamptonNative (84), Southampton on Oct 7, 11 4:53 PM
2 members liked this comment
Well said...I dislike him because he is ineffective.....period!
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Oct 8, 11 9:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
you have got to be kidding. despicable. you don't know what you don't know.
By kaluss45 (44), southampton on Oct 7, 11 1:48 PM
I would like to add a comment hear. Have any of you seen the video of this alleged attack?. Yes, I agree with the fact that children learn from home . Is that why Mr. Claud is clouding the issue in this particular case at hand. His son was the aggressor. You must look into this particular students back round to understand him. This is not an issue of race or bulling. It is just a situation that occurred..
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Oct 7, 11 5:38 PM
What issue is he clouding? The fact that his sun was being bullied? The fact that administrators did nothing to address his concerns? The fact that his son was pushed to far and lashed out? I do not know Dan's son but I know the Claude family, they are good people and it they say he was pushed to far, I believe it. It sounds like you have an issue with the student...or his family or both. At any rate, there is an issue with the treatment of minorities in the Southampton School District. There always ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 11, 11 10:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
"You must look into this particular students background to understand him." I would like to know how much YOU know him. Please let us know because I DO KNOW this young man AND his family very well. Do tell us about his "background" and I can tell you that you are wrong!!
To also say that it's just a situation that occurred is sounding so much like we should just bury the entire problem and go on as if nothing ever happened. This time the matter will not be put to rest until ALL students and ...more
By fdp (23), southampton on Oct 8, 11 11:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
I do know this young man also, do you know what goes on behind closed doors.................
By guest (68), Bridgehampton on Oct 12, 11 1:58 PM
I truly doubt you know him. You just think you do. I wonder why your comments only speak badly of the Claud family instead of bringing forth the issues in the article? This is why the problems continue. It's sidetracked by people like you.
By fdp (23), southampton on Oct 15, 11 8:17 AM
Extremely irresponsible of 27 east to allow comments on a story directly related to children, especially one in which the kids are identified by name. Editors, have you read some of the comments here? I bet the children involved have and their classmates as well. Thus discussion board has made a bad situation worse for all involved.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 8, 11 9:40 PM
Bullying in it's various forms can be a crime ranging from harrassment to aggravated harrassment to assault. If the school district is not addressing this issue perhaps the victims in these bullying cases should report these crimes to local law enforcement. I had this same type of situation with my daughters when they were in high school and the only thing that stopped it was a visit from the town PD. It did not escalate, it did not continue, it stopped . . . immediately.
By JCPA (13), East Hampton on Oct 10, 11 2:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
"it's" means it is. The correct sentence should read "Bullying in its various forms..."

By AFB (31), NYC/SH on Oct 11, 11 10:50 AM
and you don't start a sentence with a lower case and you don't end a sentence the way you did above....but regardless of all of that, why is everyone correcting each other's posts...who cares.....
By Senior Sparky (2), Southampton on Oct 12, 11 5:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
just another form of bullying...if you cant make a comment nail them on grammar. We're all so perfect!
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on Oct 12, 11 4:35 PM
Bullying is horrible. I do not believe that it is a "right of passage". I was bullied on a daily basis from someone of an opposite race as I. My brother was bullied and harrassed on a daily basis also many years ago. We are very grateful to Mr. Carl Stevens, who was a principal in the S.I.S. many years ago and died too young. He was a great man and an excellent principal. He intervened with my brother's case many years ago. They do not make men or principals like that anymore. As for me, ...more
By kathrb (16), Southampton on Oct 12, 11 2:40 PM
I have two corrections to my post above. It is Mr. Stephens not "Stevens" and rite of passage, not "right" of passage. I apologize for the errors. Thank you.
By kathrb (16), Southampton on Oct 12, 11 2:54 PM