Mom says son wasn't protected from bullying

Joel Brown Image
Friday, October 28, 2016
Mom says son wasn't protected from bullying
Romelo Alston

CARY, NC (WTVD) -- A Wake County mom is angry and frustrated - blaming Wake County Public Schools for not doing enough to protect her son against months of persistent bullying. She says the most recent incident led her 10-year-old boy to take extreme actions to stop the laughing and teasing.

For the past 6 weeks, 10-year-old Romelo Alston has been doing his classwork from home, in his bedroom, with his mom, Ashley.

Romelo's too afraid to go back to school.

"I'm afraid they're gonna start laughing at me again," Romelo said when asked if he ever wanted to return to Farmington Woods Elementary in Cary.

Romelo's tipping point came on the school's playground, September 16. Romelo says two girls asked him to get off the merry-go-round. At first, he refused, then things escalated.

"Once [Romelo] finally got off the equipment, one of the girls spit in his face and the other girl pulled his pants down exposing him to everybody," said Ashley Strange, the boy's mother.

Devastated and embarrassed, Romelo went back to class and tightly tied a plastic bag around his head.

"He was embarrassed and he wanted to get away from the laughter. He tried to kill himself," Strange said.

"It was the only way to avoid [the bullying]," Romelo said when asked if he knew the danger of his actions.

Romelo's teacher sent him to the guidance counselor and home that afternoon on the school bus. The boy's pediatrician told his mother to keep Romelo out of school until he can be transferred to another school.

"We want a safe learning environment for him," said Raleigh parental advocate, Geraldine Alshamy.

Alshamy says the incident points to a lack of training for Wake County school staff.

"When you look at the actions the teacher made you could tell she had not been trained," Alshamy said.

Alshamy and Strange also suggest a racial double-standard.

"Just the thought of having another child, especially a white girl spit in my black son's face and then expose him on the playground, it's hurtful," Strange said.

"A lot of folks wanted to go and march and tear down the school, really they did," Alshamy said describing reaction of some in the Raleigh's black community as word spread about what happened and how the school system handled it.

"Nothing was done to [the girls who bullied Romelo]. And if this had been the other way around, my son would've probably been expelled for the rest of the year."

Strange is also upset the family's request to transfer Romelo to Brier Creek Elementary was denied by the district.

Wake County Public Schools told ABC11, it couldn't discuss the case, specifically. But, says the district did provide other transfer options to the family. Strange says they were unacceptable.

As far as the bullying, the district says it gives high priority to providing a safe learning environment. And, that complaints are thoroughly investigated.

Romelo's mom says not in her son's case.

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