A disagreement between a parent and principal in Florida regarding alleged elementary-school cyberbullying has intensified.
A mother in Polk County, visibly upset, is trying to make her daughter’s school and the entire district school board accountable for what she perceives as a continuous failure to handle bullying incidents properly.
The issue started with a 5th-grade girl from Rosabelle W. Blake Academy in Lakeland, Florida, who supposedly created a TikTok video pretending to shoot an 11-year-old classmate in the head. The Polk County State Attorney’s Office is considering charging the child under a Florida law forbidding electronic threats to kill or cause physical harm, as stated by the Lakeland Police Department. The school, however, did not view the video as an issue.
The child’s mother, depicted as being killed in the video, was the only one to face any reprimand. After Trisha Brown pulled her daughter from school for the remaining weeks of the school year and sought answers from school officials, she was warned against returning to the campus, being told she would be trespassing.
Four days after the school’s discovery of the video, Polk County Public Schools acknowledged that children might act foolishly on social media but insisted they seriously handle such matters. However, Ms. Brown regarded the video as a legitimate death threat.
A Polk County judge sided with her six weeks ago, granting a restraining order against the child who allegedly created the video.
Unsatisfied, she is now keen to highlight an education system led by officials she believes ignore their policies and fail to secure a safe atmosphere for all students.
According to Ms. Brown, the school claimed they couldn’t act since the video was produced off-campus and didn’t involve a school-owned device. She countered by showing principal Ava Brown the local bullying policy, which mandates expulsion for threats involving the school.
Florida schools must minimize bullying, as their grading affects funding. The higher the grade, the more funding they receive.
Florida law also distributes “safe school funds” based on compliance with proper reporting procedures.
Ms. Brown’s efforts have been supported by the non-profit organization Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF), providing guidance and legal aid in obtaining the restraining order.
CDF is also investigating whether Polk County schools neglect to handle harassment and bullying cases properly, a struggle shared by other local parents, according to Polk County education lead for CDF, Pam Luce.