Mother says son with Tourettes bullied, wants more resources in schools

Posted at 4:52 PM, Sep 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-17 16:36:25-04

TULSA -- A mother felt compelled to pull her son out of elementary school in Tulsa because of bullying.

Carrie Boersema said her fifth-grade son, Reece, was picked on at Grissom Elementary School because he has Tourette's Syndrome. 

She said the bullying started on the first day of school, which was Reece's first day at Grissom Elementary.

The mother said she tried to be proactive at the beginning of the school year by telling the school about Reece's Tourettes. 

Boersema said kids started mocking her son's ticks. 

"At the beginning of the school year, his tick sounded like a screaming woman about every 15 to 20 seconds the whole day," Boersema said. 

She said one child would start picking on her son and get other students to join in.

"Telling him to shut up and be quiet,"  Boersema said.

Boersema said it turned physical and students hit Reece. 

The mother said she called the school counselor who said it was a game students were playing called "necking" where they slap each other on the neck.

Boersema said students hitting other students was assault.

Throughout the bullying, Reece became stressed. Boersema said stress intensifies Tourettes. 

"It's terrible," Boersema said. "You just want to protect him and make it better for him." 

The mother understands her son's struggle, because she also has Tourettes.

"Teachers would always think that I was being disruptive or inappropriate," Boersema said.

Eventually Boersema realized she would not be able to protect her son anymore and pulled him out of the Tulsa Public School System. 

"I didn't feel like the proper measures were being taken to protect him," Boersema said.

The family is moving out of the state in the coming weeks and are hoping Reece has a better experience in another school.

Until then he is taking elementary school online.

Boersema wants something done for other kids who might be struggling with similar problems. She suggests creating a safe zone where they can get individualized attention outside the classroom. 

"Somewhere that they feel like they can go an just get away from all of the pressure of the classroom or have a separate classroom or something somewhere he could go or other children could go to feel safe," Boersema said.

The mother said since she has pulled her son out of school, his ticks have lessened and become more manageable. 

Tulsa Public Schools issued the following statement.

"Student safety - physically, emotionally, and intellectually - has to be our priority if we are going to see our children thrive and achieve. More than anything, we want our students to enjoy school and look forward to coming each day, and we want to get them safely home each evening with positive experiences to share. When incidents between students are reported, we begin investigating them immediately – within the same day if possible. We also contact the parents of all students involved. Depending on the results of our investigation, outcomes may include developing a student safety plan, providing counseling and education about safety and inclusion, and when appropriate, facilitating restorative conversations between students. We not only follow Tulsa Public Schools Board Policy, but throughout, we are guided by best interests of our children – keeping them safe and helping to turn negative experiences into opportunities for personal learning and growth."



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