Chilliwack family concerned violence not taken seriously

Young boy attacked about Chilliwack school bus suffering nightmares and bruises, says mother

A Chilliwack family is concerned that their son's school didn't handle a violent attack on his school bus quickly or severely enough. They are meeting with school officials to make sure a proper plan is in place to deal with violence.

A Chilliwack family is concerned that their son's school didn't handle a violent attack on his school bus quickly or severely enough. They are meeting with school officials to make sure a proper plan is in place to deal with violence.

The Klebe family wants to know exactly how the school district is protecting children from violence in schools.

The concern arose on Friday, they say, when one child physically assaulted their son on a school bus. Video from the bus shows their son was grabbed around the neck in a chokehold before the two dropped behind a seat out of sight.

The Klebe’s son was bashed against a bus seat, and the other boy had to be pulled off. He was left with bruises on his body, and scratches from being strangled. On Friday night, he had a horrible nightmare, his mom Melissa Klebe says.

Both of the boys involved are just six years old.

The Klebes spoke to the school board in the public participation time slot of Tuesday night’s school board meeting. They felt they had to bring it up to the board, because they weren’t satisfied with the school’s response. On Monday morning, the boy who had hurt their son was in class, so they decided to keep their son home.

In addition to outlining what happened on the bus, and how the situation was handled by the school, the Klebes showed trustees photos of their son’s bruises.

“The look on the board (member’s) faces after seeing the photos held up of my son, it looked like they were appalled,” Klebe said.

She said they spoke about it and planned for a meeting the next morning with Rohan Arul-Pragasam, the district’s assistant superintendent.

“By the next morning there was an apology meeting, finally in place,” she said. That took place on Wednesday at the school. But it hasn’t helped calm their son’s fears so far.

“Today (Thursday), he was very apprehensive about getting on the bus,” Klebe says. The school counsellor was at the other end to greet him at school.

“My main problem was that the school didn’t finish investigating,” she says. “They only got part of it. The cops saw actual handprints on my son, and (the school) still chose to put that kid back in the school.”

She said the apology meeting included an apology from the school, but it’s still too little, too late.

“They clearly do not have my child’s safety on their mind,” she says. At one point this week, the two boys were briefly placed in the office just a few feet from each other.

School board chair Silvia Dyck said the board does not comment on individual student issues, and that they refer complaints to the board back to senior staff for review and resolution.

Arul-Pragasam and the school’s principal did not respond to The Progress requests for further information about violence protocols by deadline.

Chilliwack School District’s policy on student discipline outlines numerous steps that can be taken to help a student correct their behaviour, including referral to support services. Klebe said she was not at liberty to discuss the other boy’s discipline publicly.