*EDITOR'S NOTE: The names of the people we spoke to in this story have been changed.
AMHERST - A concerned Amherst mother is challenging the anti-bullying policy at a local junior high school.
In a letter sent to the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, the woman, 'Jane', claims her 12-year-old son 'John' and a friend 'Arthur' were suspended from school for standing up to a bully.
She said the principal has acknowledged the student accused of the bullying has admitted to doing so. She said the alleged bully didn't receive a suspension.
'Jane's' wondering if the student being accused is getting preferential treatment because his father is a police officer.
"From September until now, 'Bob' has been calling 'John' and 'Arthur' names," she said. "'Bob' is a full 18-inches taller than 'John', and has delighted in calling him names like Smurf and Midget, and threatening to punch 'John''in the nuts.'"
In April, 'Jane's' son stood up to his tormenter and received a two-day suspension.
The same day 'John' stood up to 'Bob', 'Bob' and the smaller boy's friend 'Arthur' got into a physical altercation off school property. 'Arthur' was suspended for three days with an additional five days of in-school suspension, while 'Bob' remained at school.
'Jane' said she's talked to the vice-principal about the incident, however the vice-principal would not discuss what has or hasn't happened to other students despite her son being involved.
"She stated that E.B. Chandler Junior High makes no claims to a 'zero-tolerance to bullying', although "we take it very seriously."
"While stating one moment that she was not aware that 'Bob' had bullied 'John', she stated mere moments later that "both boys admitted it has been a case of mutual bullying."
"This contradictory statement means she was, in fact, aware of 'Bob's' bullying and yet it remains uncorrected."
'Jane' said she doesn't condone how her son handled the situation and made sure his two days at home were busy ones.
She agreed her son's two-day suspension was fair, and also makes note that the school had said students not on school property are not the school's responsibility, so the police should be called.
"So how is it that when the son of a police officer is involved in a fight away from school property, the other student receives three days out-of-school suspension and five days of in-school suspension?"
Since sending the letter to the school board, 'Jane' said the three students have met with the principal and vice-principal, however nothing has changed.
"In the end, the bully remains unpunished as I expected, and the boys were simply encouraged to get along," she said.
"To say that I'm angry is an understatement."
Carolyn Pierce, communications manager with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, would not comment on specifics, citing confidentiality.
"What usually happens is, if a school receives a concern about bullying from a student or a parent, it's always looked into."
She said it could involve talking to the students, teacher and even the parents, but in a way that respects the privacy and dignity of the person raising the concern.
"When questions or concerns come up specifically about bullying, they look at if this is a one-time disagreement or is it bullying?" Pierce said, adding bullying would be targeting an individual or group repeatedly over time, whether verbal, physical or psychological.
"If it is identified as bullying, there are consequences under the code of conduct. Whenever discipline is given out under our code of conduct, that's handled between the school administration and the student who is identified as being the bully."
Pierce said the student being bullied, or their parents, may not know of what other discipline or consequences have been handed out to other students because of confidentiality reasons.
She also stated that if a parent or student feels their concern hasn't been resolved, it doesn't have to stop at the school.
"If they feel the issue has not been resolved, the next step is to bring it up to the Family of Schools Supervisor," she said.
Following the supervisor, concerns can go to the director of Education Services, then the superintendent and finally the board committee or full school board.
"It's important for parents to know that if they feel their concern is not being resolved at the school, it doesn't have to end there," Pierce said.
Jane said this is an example of why students don't speak up about bullying, or why some even commit suicide or result to other violent actions.