HARRAH — Sparked by claims a teenager had been bullied, activists, children, parents and teachers attended an anti-bullying rally outside the middle school on Thursday.
Many held signs with such messages as “See something/Say something,” “Words Hurt,” and “Take a Stand.”
More than 100 people showed up at the rally, which was punctuated by hugs, tears and calls to
It was clear from the onset the protest wasn't just about allegations of bullying from 13-year-old middle school student Arzell Gaddis.
“It's not an Arzell issue anymore,” said his foster mother, Heather Winstead. “Other kids are going through the same thing.”
Arzell and his family claim the biracial teen was the target of racial slurs made as he and other boys were playing an athletic game after school.
He said other boys changed the game's name from “smear the q - - - - to “smear the n - - - - - -.”
He said he was purposefully injured during the game by players who didn't like him and claims he wasn't helped by the teacher.
His family mentioned other situations where the youth had been bullied.
Harrah Superintendent Dean Hughes said he's aware of the incident during the game.
The teacher who was supervising the activity is being investigated.
Hughes said this is the only incident that's been reported to the school in regard to Arzell being bullied. He said the school takes all allegations of bullying seriously.
“If we find that there was something done wrong here, we will take care of it,” Hughes said.
The school bullying policy states “Incidents of physical assault, intimidation ... harassing, and/or other negative behaviors will not be tolerated.” Those who violate the policy are subject to discipline, including the incidents being reported to law enforcement agencies.