A teenager in central Newfoundland says she’s had to move away from her family to escape bullying at school.
Alicia Gillard transferred from Exploits Valley High in Grand Falls-Windsor to Indian River High in Springdale this winter to get away from other students who the 16-year-old said harassed her at school.
Her mother, Amanda Gillard, is wondering why school administration didn’t do more to stop it.
Alicia Gillard said the bullying started at EVH in October 2017 when she broke up with her boyfriend. She said after that, his sister and her friends started to harass her in class.
“She started saying things to me that weren’t that nice,” Gillard said. “She called me a bitch, and a slut, and a whore, like everything.”
She told her mother, who contacted the school.
“I went to the vice-principal,” Amanda Gillard said. “And his words to me were they were going to deal with it. Alicia was out of school for a week in October due to the bullying. There was threats made to her. They were going to beat her up. There was four of them.”
Gillard said taking time off school was done on the advice of the vice-principal, “who said to leave her out for a week and then send her back because she’ll probably feel better,” she said.
Ready to quit
But once Alicia returned to school, she said the harassment escalated and she feared walking the hallways alone.
“I couldn’t stay in school at all,” Gillard said. “I was out before Christmas holidays for four days and I just did not want to go back.”
And when her mother picked her up from school, she didn’t want her daughter to return to EVH.
“I went down. They had her put in a desk doing her work,” Amanda Gillard said. “Why weren’t the ones bullying her there, not her?”
She thought about dropping out, but Alicia Gillard said she wants to get her education so she can be a nurse when she graduates.
Moving the whole family wasn’t an option. Amanda Gillard couldn’t give up her job, and she didn’t want to interrupt her son’s school year.
So she contacted a family member in Springdale, 107 kilometres away, and asked if Alicia could stay with her for the rest of the school year. But she said it’s not easy to be so far away from her daughter.
“It’s been rough. It’s different. Cause it was only me and her and her brother, cause her dad is passed,” Amanda Gillard said. “And we shouldn’t have to break up our family because of those that are bullying.”
Since moving to Springdale, Alicia Gillard said school is much better. But she does wish the situation in Grand-Falls Windsor had been handled differently.
“People need to know what’s going on in the school and nothing is being done,” she said. “There’s people going to that school that can get bullied. Something can happen, like really bad, that shouldn’t happen to teenagers trying to get their education.”
Bullying policy in place
Bronson Collins, assistant director of education for the Central region at the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, said he can’t comment on a specific case, but all schools follow the Safe and Caring School Policy of 2013.
“When we become aware of any concerns that may exist, a parent certainly has a right to contact people the the district,” Collins said.
“We always do debriefs with schools as well to have a discussion about what may transpire in a particular case, and where are we with practices, and what we need to continue to do to make sure that all students are safe in their schools,” he said.
Amanda Gillard said she is waiting to hear back from the Department of Education on the matter and won’t stop until she gets an answer she is happy with.
“I think it’s important to speak out because this needs to be stopped,” Gillard said. “It’s happening and it’s going too far, and it’s going to be stopped with my daughter.”