STORY COUNTY, Iowa — On November 15th, parents from the Roland-Story School District showed up at the high school looking for answers to questions they’ve been asking about alleged bullying incidents.
“Her hair is being spit on. Every day,” Darrell Smith said referring to his daughter’s experience at school.
“She’s on medication now for being bullied,” another parent said.
“Is anything being done about it? We’ve asked the school,” Smith added.
The meeting was moved to the library to accommodate the number of parents who wanted to speak and hear what the district’s response was to felony assault charges filed against junior wrestling standout Kade Blume, who was accused of assaulting a fellow student earlier in the year.
“The alleged incident occurred off school grounds and was not connected to any school event,” board president, Marc Soderstrum said reading a prepared statement to the audience.
“Everything is being pushed under the rug. It’s time for change,” Smith said.
Board member Jasmine Goeders acknowledged concerns raised by parents
“We do take this seriously. Obviously, we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Goeders said.
Blume recently accepted a plea agreement where he’ll plead guilty to the assault after it was moved from adult to juvenile court. Nearly a month later, parents and Goeders were surprised to see Blume back on top of the podium after winning a wrestling tournament over the weekend. A Roland-Story wrestling Facebook post showed Blume’s accomplishment, but was later edited; his picture and name were removed.
“I don’t know that any of us knew that he had been competing. I certainly didn’t and when I followed up with that I was told that current policy dictates he had to sit out 20% of his current athletic season which happens to be wrestling. And I said well, did he? And I was told, yes, he did sit out the twenty percent. This one size fits all disciplinary procedure does not take into account serious offenses,” Goeders said.
As for the parents who showed up during the November meeting, wanting to be heard and who demanded action, Goeders said not much has been done.
“I just don’t feel like anybody else was motivated enough to follow up with these families and to try and make a difference.”
“So, there’s been no follow-up or official discussion on those topics?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, no,” Goeders responded.
Goeders won’t be a part of any future discussions as a board member, she resigned effective immediately on Monday.
“My board resignation was not specifically due to the circumstances surrounding Kade Blume’s situation. My board resignation was a culmination of three years of experiences,” Goeders said.
The Roland-Story school district released a statement Tuesday evening on the topic saying in part:
“Moving forward, the district plans to create a review committee to work on bringingRoland-Story Community School District
recommendations to the School Board on how to revise the district’s existing good conduct
policy and other discipline policies, with the hope of being inclusive and transparent in the
process. The district’s goal is to make necessary changes to help ensure that those students
who may violate policy are held accountable to the fullest extent possible when conduct violates
the district’s norms and expectations. The bottom line is that the district’s current policy can and
will be improved.“