A South Carolina mom took her son’s well-being into her own hands by showing up at his school to confront bullies that had allegedly been making his life very difficult.
Jamie Rathburn of Simpsonville, S.C., reached her limit after her son endured physical and verbal bullying throughout the year at Greenbrier Elementary School.
Rathburn said she lost her “cool card” when the school administrators told her they had separated her son from the other students in order to protect him. The mother added that teachers were mandated to follow her son everywhere he went — including during recess and lunch.
“I don’t regret standing up for my child one bit,” said Rathburn to CNN. “I regret the way I did it: I walked right in that school, told those children that bullying wasn’t OK. If they wanted to continue then I needed to talk to their mamas because the school wasn’t doing anything. I’m not right in my actions, but I’m right in standing up for my son.”
According to Rathburn, she and the school had multiple meetings about the bullying situation, but nothing changed for her son. She also kept a running log of the bullying incidents, which she said included her son being kicked, shoved, hit with a computer and forcibly jerked down a slide. She also claimed that he was called “gay” and “stupid,” and when he reported it he was told to just “ignore it.”
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said Rathburn entered the school on May 17 without permission and started to yell at a class of Grade 3 students in a menacing manner. The mother acknowledges that she yelled, but claimed that she cursed at her son’s teacher and the principal.
“I feel like it was handled poorly. I feel like my son was neglected in the fact that he would ask for help and not receive it,” said Rathburn. “He was not being heard, which is why I got involved. I probably was seeming like a bully at that point. I’m not proud of it.”
After leaving the school, Rathburn posted a now-deleted “profanity-laden” Facebook video that an unidentified concerned individual pointed out to the police. The mother of two was subsequently arrested on May 20.
She was booked into Greenville County jail on a charge of non-student interfering, disrupting or disturbing schools and was released shortly afterwards.
The crime is a misdemeanour, and if she’s found guilty she could face a US$2,000 fine or a year in jail. She’s currently on a no-trespassing notice and her son is no longer allowed to attend Greenbrier. He’s still allowed to attend another school within the district’s boundaries.
Greenville County Schools District spokeswoman Elizabeth Brotherton said that while she understands Rathburn’s frustrations, it’s never acceptable to behave in such an aggressive way.
“It is never OK to confront other people’s children and to use foul language with them and threatening language with them,” Brotherton said to local affiliate 13WOWK. “Maybe in her mind, she was going there to confront a bully or a couple of children, but in not knowing who those were and choosing to yell at dozens of innocent kids, there is nothing appropriate about yelling at other people’s children in a school setting after you’ve snuck in illegally.”
While Rathburn has since issued an apology to the school board, the school’s employees and any students she impacted with her behaviour, she also stands behind her actions — as seen in this Facebook post on her personal page.
Rathburn is set to appear in court next week. She has set up a GoFundMe account to help with her legal fees.
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