Sanford mom calls out Lee County Schools, says son is being bullied and physically assaulted

Monique John Image
Monday, January 23, 2023
Sanford mom says Lee County Schools is failing to stop bullying
"I can't even imagine going through what my son goes through on a daily basis," the mom said.

SANFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- Bullying in school affects one in five children according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Schools in the Triangle have been coming down hard on the issue but parents say bullying is still causing problems for their kids.

Jennifer Castenada said her 11-year old son is now suffering with anxiety because of the bullying he's had to endure at J.R. Ingram Elementary School. That stress is something he deals with on top of being diagnosed with autism and Tourette syndrome.

"I can't even imagine going through what my son goes through on a daily basis," she said.

Castenada said her son has been the victim of various forms of abuse including physical assaults -- like being choked, kicked in the stomach and being punched in the arm. The issue has been going on since August.

Castenada said she has reached out to Lee County Schools officials but they have hardly intervened. She said, in one case, her son was even accused of provoking the other student.

"I don't care what my son said. It gives nobody the right to physically harm and assault my child," she said.

Bullying has been a prominent issue in local school districts. Just last week, Wake County Schools amended their bullying policy, broadening it for more forms of attack and exclusion.

The Wake County Public School System Board unanimously backed an amended bullying and discrimination policy.

In Cumberland County, the district received a $5 million grant earlier this month to offer specialized mental health support to students.

Lee County Schools issued the following statement responding to Castenada's accusations:

"We take all reports of bullying very seriously and follow the appropriate protocol to provide a safe learning environment for our students. School and district staff have met and spoken with the mother on multiple occasions. We have worked closely with her to ensure her concerns are addressed each time an incident is reported."

Lee County Schools goes on to say the incidents have been investigated and the school has taken appropriate action.