Open Letter to Superintendent Frailey and my response:

October 01, 2010

An Open Letter to Alton Frailey, Supt. of Schools, Katy ISD:

Dear Mr. Frailey,

I am a Katy resident and the mother of three boys, ages 16, 13 and 10. My two older sons are students in Katy ISD, and my youngest attends a private school in Houston for children with neurological differences. I previously served on the board of Katy Autism Support, am the founder of Katy Faith & Disability Network, and currently serve on the board of directors of the National Autism Association.

I am sure you are aware of the recent suicide of a 13-year-old CFISD student. Tragically, his parents maintain, and others have come forward to substantiate their assertion, that his suicide was directly a result of being bullied at school. Children with differences --whether it be neurological differences like autism, differences in sexual orientation, or simply those who do not "fit in" to the mainstream --are often targeted by bullies.

I believe this is an opportunity for you to seize an important "teaching moment" by doing two things:

First, ask all Katy ISD parents via a Katy ISD email alert to talk individually with their children about bullying. Whether a child is a target of bullying, or whether they are themselves engaging in this behavior, it is helpful to have an open dialogue. Parents can remind children who they can talk to (parent, teacher, counselor, safety net) and what they can do if they are victimized or witness other children being bullied.

Second, ask your counselors to talk with students about what is going on. Almost any student, in any grade at any school, can tell who the bullies are and who is being victimized. Students are very adept at learning the "rules of the game", making it relatively easy for adults to identify students at risk. Just ask the kids.

School wide programs may be helpful, but they are no substitute for one-to-one discussions with students about their responsibilities regarding respectful behavior themselves and every person's ethical obligation to protect others who are being unfairly victimized. Too often, messages that come from school announcements delivered to the population at large are filtered out because kids are thinking "that doesn't apply to me."

I hope you will consider taking these simple steps to further ensure the safety and well-being of all Katy ISD students.

Best Regards,

Leslie Phillips

Posted by Leslie Phillips at October 1, 2010 04:09 PM


Mrs. Phillips,

Thank you for your timely letter to the Katy ISD superintendent. I have been trying to get the school district to alter its "bullying" policy for years.

Maybe now they will see that a change is long overdue.

KISD policy, as it exists, punishes the child who is bullied rather than the child who is being bullied. It is the most egregious discipline policy ever.

If a student is found to have been bullied, that student has the "opportunity" to move to another school. The bully as the aggressor gets to stay where he is. The worst thing that can happen to him is that he gets three days of "out of school suspension" and that is a last resort.

There is nothing fair about uprooting the bullied student, causing his parents to have to find transportation to another school, causing him/her to be separated from friends, teachers, etc., while the bully gets to stay in place and gloat over his power.

It is the BULLY who should be moved, uprooted, and caused to lose his friends.

On his first offense, a record of the bully should be started. And the record should be created whether or not there is a witness, so that the next time it occurs (and it most assuredly will) there will be some indication that this may be a pattern for this student. On the occasion of his second offense, he needs to be moved to the alternative school for a lengthy stay. If this behavior is occurring at the elementary level, at the very least a couple of weeks of mandated parent-in-school-shadowing should be the penalty--[and it doesn't matter how old the student is--his parent needs to ALSO be paying a penalty].

Until school administrators, hopefully at the behest of board members (but don't count on them), come to their senses about this issue, nothing will change.

Posted by: Mary McGarr at October 2, 2010 09:59 AM