Just over a month since an extreme bullying incident saw a teenage boy with cerebral palsy walked over while lying face down in a cold brook, a human rights complaint has been filed against Glace Bay High School.
“The way they handled it was just totally completely wrong. They tried to hide it, tried to brush it every which way to make it go away,” said Terri McEachern, the mother of 14-year-old Brett McEachern.
READ MORE: N.S. teen with cerebral palsy pressured to lie in creek, walked on by classmate
The social media post surfaced on Nov. 6 and showed Brett being bullied into lying on his stomach in the brook outside the high school. Dozens of students can be seen in the social media videos watching Brett being walked over and called offensive names.
Since the incident, McEachern says her son hasn’t been able to return to a full-time school schedule and routine.
“I want to see him return safely to school. It will never be behind him. It will never be past him,” she said.
“This incident has traumatized him.”
Human rights complaint received by high school
“We received the complaint from Human Rights and together with the school, we will be participating and cooperating in the process,” CBVRSB spokesperson Michelle MacLeod wrote in an email.
Zach Churchill, the provincial minister for education, has also been contacted by McEachern.
McEachern says she’s still awaiting a response to a meeting she had with the minister several weeks ago.
According to the Department of Education, attempts at communicating with McEachern are being made.
“The minister reached out to Ms. MacEachern again this week and has not been able to connect with her yet. Department staff have been working with the Regional Center for Education to ensure the proper supports are in place for Brett and his family, and we will respect whatever decision they make on how they want to proceed,” Chrissy Matheson said in an email statement, a communications advisor with the provincial education department.
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Aftermath of bullying causing family grief
McEachern says a restorative justice approach is being used by officials with Glace Bay High School to work with the students involved in the bullying incident and her son, but that she’s declined further participation due to the way Corbett was treated during the sessions.
“I’m not obligated to go through a process that made my son feel small, made my son feel like he was slow, I’ll work with human rights on this,” McEachern said.
McEachern says Corbett is still being tormented by some students and that he previously showed no signs of anxiety or panic attacks before the incident occurred.
She adds that she’s asked her son if he wants to switch schools, but that he’s declined due to fear that the bullying would worsen if he did.
“They already call him ‘the human bridge,’ so he doesn’t want to be known as ‘the human bridge’ in another school,” she said.
McEachern says she just wants her son to return to school safely.