• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Mother upset son was locked in locker by another student

The mother of a Woodford County High School ninth-grader says she's upset in the aftermath of another student locking her son in a football locker at WCHS last month. Nancy Loman said WCHS football Coach Dennis Johnson telephoned her to inform her about what had happened on Monday, Sept. 26, at around 3:45 p.m. One of her son's teammates, who she said bullied him in middle school, had locked him in the locker. The WCHS junior varsity football team was getting ready to play a game when the incident occurred, she said. The next day, Loman said she spoke with WCHS Principal Rob Akers and he told her that it would be a month before the student who locked her son in the locker would be back at the high school. "He (my son) most definitely did not want to return to school when it happened," said Loman, who kept her son home on Sept. 26 and "received numerous calls . to come get him from school" the rest of that week. Loman said she was told that the juvenile who locked her son in the locker would be charged with second-degree unlawful imprisonment. On Oct. 6, she attended the Woodford County Human Rights Commission's meeting to tell its members about the incident involving her son. "Sometimes we hear complaints that we're concerned about," said Marilyn Daniel, vice chair of the Woodford County Human Rights Commission, "but we don't really have jurisdiction to do anything ourselves." Members of the Human Right Commission did meet with Woodford County schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins about the alleged incident involving Loman's son on Oct. 21 to ensure he was aware of it, she said. "There are differences in the two parties' understanding of what happened, so I can say that Superintendent Hawkins felt that the school system had fully addressed the situation. We don't know if that's the case because we don't know what really happened. So it's hard for us to say if we were satisfied because we feel like the two parties really are the ones that need to be satisfied and agree that everything that needs to be done has been done," said Daniel. She said Hawkins told the commission several months ago that he wanted to be informed whenever a complaint involving the schools has been brought to their attention. In a telephone interview, Hawkins said he cannot comment on student disciplinary matters, but "if anything like that were to have happened, we would have investigated it thoroughly and we would have dealt with it very, very strongly." When such a situation does occur and gets reported to high school administrators, Hawkins said, "They would get to the bottom of exactly what happened." And if such an incident did in fact occur, "we would take as strong as action as we could take" against that student, he added. Because her 15-year-old son takes medication to control his epilepsy, Loman knows a far worse outcome could have resulted from him being locked in a locker. "He could have been so scared that he went into a seizure. He could've hit his head in the locker . There's a lot of what-ifs that could've happened," said Loman. "This could have been more of a tragic situation than it was, and I don't ever want it to ever happen to someone else." She said other students videotaped the incident involving her son and posted those images on social media. Generally speaking, Hawkins said, students in Kentucky public schools do not face expulsion unless the offense involved a weapon or distribution of drugs. And he could only recall one incident that resulted in a student being expelled from school during his eight-year tenure here. "In the vast majority of cases," Hawkins explained, "if we were to do an expulsion, we would still have to provide (some type of educational) services to that student." So instead of expelling a student, he said, a student would be placed in the district's alternative school program on a short-term basis of 15 to 30 days or a longer-term basis when the nature of the offense or repeated behavior warrant such action. Other disciplinary options include in-school and out-of-school suspension "as consequences for students who have done something of a significant nature," Hawkins said.

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