The mother of a Johnston County middle school student says her daughter was bullied and assaulted in her classroom earlier this month but the teacher, administrators nor the principal took any action.
On March 12th, 12 year-old Summer Gray was attending her first period science class at Cleveland Middle School. Summer said a 6th grade classmate who has previously called her names and bullied her, walked up and shoved his hand against her face and eyeglasses causing pain around her eye. Afraid her glasses might break, Summer said she moved away quickly. The classmate then grabbed a mechanical pencil and stabbed Summer in the hand, breaking off the pencil lead deep in the palm of her hand.
Summer said her teacher did not see the incident but she immediately reported it to him. He instructed Summer to go the bathroom and wash her hand and go to the office to report the incident.
Summer did as she was instructed and an office staff member filled out an Accident-Incident Report stating “Summer was accidentally stabbed by a mechanical pencil – it broke her skin.”
Summer’s mother, Sally Haight, said she received a phone call from her daughter saying she had been assaulted and injured and needed medical treatment. Sally took her daughter to Johnston Medical Center in Clayton where a doctor removed the lead from her hand and placed her on antibiotics for 10 days. No facial injuries were found.
“It’s None Of Your Business…”
On March 14th when Haight returned to school with Summer asking what disciplinary action had been taken against the boy who stabbed her, Haight said she was told by a school employee, “It’s none of your business honey how we handle things at this school. It’s none of your business honey.”
“I believe it is my business when it pertains to my daughter,” Haight told WTSB News. “I had to come pick her up and take her to the emergency room. I was furious. My main concern is my daughter.”
Summer says the same boy who stabbed her also calls her names. She said others classmates have also called her names about her weight.
Summer says the incident was not an accident. “He hit my glasses. He stabbed me. He was not playing around.”
Student Who Stabbed Summer Still In Her Class
“They talk about gun violence, threats in school and everything happening now in schools,” Mrs. Haight said. “It starts as something as simple as this. They (school administrators) don’t think this is major. Yes, it was a mechanical pencil, it broke the skin and Summer was marked absent from school. She had to go to the ER.”
“They act like it is nothing. I think it would be good for this kid to reflect on what he did to my daughter. If I stabbed someone when I was in school I would have been disciplined.”
“They claim it was an accident but (Summer) will clearly tell you before it happened and the events that led up to it, it was no accident,” Haight said. “He was not playing around. Something should have been done.”
Summer says the boy who stabbed her is still in her classroom. Summer says she doesn’t feel safe around him and feels like he should no longer be allowed in the same room.
Summer says she had reported bullying before but no action was ever taken, including a recent incident where another 6th grader made fun of her clothes.
“When kids hurt other kids and it’s not taken seriously it is wrong,” Mrs. Haight told WTSB. “It could have been scissors. What if it had gone through her hand.”
“They acted like they didn’t care about it, but they care so much about the shooting stuff. This is also a big thing too.”
Haight says she no longer trusts administrators at Cleveland Middle to do the right thing.
School Reacts To WTSB Inquiry
After WTSB News began making inquiries with Johnston County school officials on Wednesday, Haight said a Cleveland Middle principal immediately reached out to her wanting to know more about the incident.
Because of the bullying problems with her daughter at Cleveland Middle School, Haight said she and her husband plan to move to another school district this summer.
Summer says she no longer enjoys attending Cleveland Middle and looks forward to a fresh start at a new school for her 7th grade year. Summer hopes to enroll at Benson Middle School in the Fall. Summer says she is excited about meeting new friends at Benson Middle.
Assault Never Reported To Law Enforcement
WTSB News confirmed Thursday (today) the March 12th assault was never reported to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office to investigate. School officials are required to report all assaults to law enforcement authorities. In this case, school officials contend it was an accidental stabbing and not an assault.
In a statement from Johnston County Schools, Crystal Roberts Chief of Communication and Engagement said, “We are committed to ongoing communication with the parent to ensure her child feels safe, and we are addressing all issues associated with this report, including the interaction between Ms. Haight and the school employee.”
Johnston County Schools Chairman Mike Wooten said the district has a web-based tip line where students, staff and parents can post comments or reports about bullying. “Our principals and staff also work very hard to create and maintain school climates that are safe and comfortable. To that end, their objective is to encourage reports of bullying when and if they do occur so that it may be addressed immediately.”
Johnston County School has an extensive policy on Bullying and Hazing. The first violation is a 10 day suspension. The second violation is another 10 day suspension with the possibility of long-term suspension.
The same policy requires all Johnston County school system employees to report any actual or suspected violations and all reports are required to be investigated.
Haight said only after inquiries were made by WTSB News on Wednesday – 16 days after the incident – did Cleveland Middle School launch an investigation.
WTSB News requested to speak with Cleveland Middle School Principal Sarah Reynolds about the incident. Reynolds did not contact us before our news deadline.
According to national statistics, 28 percent of students in grades 6-12 have experienced bullying.