Gilbert Public Schools Condones Disability Harassment of ADHD Student

ADHDstigmaIn our last post, we related how Gilbert Public Schools blithely violated the civil rights of a student who had been subjected to physical and emotional abuse by an out-of-control teacher at Patterson Elementary School. Finding no solution at the campus level, parents attempted to work with GPS Chief Talent Officer Suzanne Zentner.  Her *official GPS solution* was to condone a rogue teacher’s disability harassment of an elementary student. You will be disgusted as the story continues.

As you can well imagine, the child began sobbing uncontrollably after Bonnie Hickman berated her, hit her and said, “I’m not going to lose my job over what you think happened.” Bonnie Hickman sent the child to the bathroom to wash her face. After trying to clean herself up the child went to her music class; the music teacher could see something was wrong and asked the student to talk to her.

The student told her just a bit; the music teacher sent the child to the social worker, who took a statement and called Patterson Elementary School principal Lucas Blackburn to campus (he was away, attending meetings). The social worker went to Bonnie Hickman’s classroom to retrieve the student’s belongings. Although there were about five students in the classroom, Bonnie Hickman stated, “Oh let me guess, she’s telling you I hit her.” They moved to gravel outside the classroom next to Bonnie Hickman’s classroom. Bonnie Hickman was intent on telling her side of the story to the social worker, to the point that she she demonstrated how she had *touched* the child in the classroom. The social worker was surprised by this demonstration and noted Bonnie Hickman’s physical contact was “not hard enough to hurt, but the contact was certainly inappropriate.” The report continues:

Then Mrs. Hickman said, “I want her out of my room. I don’t trust her. I want her out of my room,” and she started walking back to the classroom. I said, “Ok, let’s go get her stuff.” Mrs Hickman was just inside the doorway and I was just outside the doorway when she said loudly, “Do you want her whole desk or what?” I stated, “Just give me what she came to school with today. She [Bonnie Hickman] stated loudly, “I want her out of my class. I don’t want her back in here.” By this time, there were approximately 12 students in the classroom, feeling it was inappropriate to continue the conversation, I stated, “Bonnie, I cannot talk to you about this in here.” She stated again loudly, “I want her out of my class. I don’t want her back in here.” I stated again, “Bonnie, I cannot talk to you about this in front of students.”

Lest you wish to disparage this post as *fiction,* we’ll share evidence from GPS showing that this story is absolutely real. The school social worker wrote a report addressed to Shawn McIntosh, a Director of Talent Management, who apparently initiated one of the infamous *GPS investigations,* which historically are conducted under an attorney’s guidance <eye roll> so they won’t be considered public records. In the four page report posted here, events are stated as related and as told to parents by the child who was harassed, and were memorialized by an impartial professional on the GPS payroll. You will notice that names have been redacted; Westie had to supplement the GPS redactions because once again, GPS staff work was incredibly sloppy:

In the report we received, it was possible to read EVERY name of EVERY child quoted, contacted or tangentially involved … due to sloppy redaction. Additionally, some important redactions were not made; Westie fixed this to protect the children GPS couldn’t be bothered to protect. If you want to refute this, GPS, we’ll show you the sloppy staff work. Sheeeeesh.

The parents wrote: 

We believe what caused Mrs. Hickman to act so strongly against [our child] has been her violation of FERPA medical guidelines in her class-wide admission of students in the class that have ADD or ADHD, which she believed and accused [our child] of reporting. It is common knowledge in that classroom as to which students have ADD or ADHD, and those who are taking medication as a result. Likewise, though not naming specific students, she has referenced the fact that 11 of her students this year have ADD or ADHD on social media platforms. This disclosure has caused [our child] grief and anxiety, much of which is brushed off. At any rate, we don’t feel the disclosure of [our child’s] medical needs are Mrs. Hickman’s to disclose at her will.

The culmination of these violations all amount to what we believe is an inability for Bonnie Hickman to stay within guidelines, control her emotions, and maintain her professionalism, all standards which are defined in the Employee Ethics section of the manual, GBEB.

Throughout this investigation, [our child] was remaining in the same classroom, being subjected to further bullying from the fellow students who had heard Mrs. Hickman’s outburst relating to her. Had we known that Mrs. Hickman was aware that we that spoke to Mr. Blackburn, or that she had made her request to have [our child] removed from her classroom in front of students, there is no way we would have kept her in that classroom, as it was clearly a hostile learning environment that was a detriment to [our child’s]  learning capacity and anxiety disorders.

What happened next defies logic. Bonnie Hickman knew that violating the student’s FERPA and Education of Children with Disabilities rights was at issue. So she apparently appealed to friends and supporters, who came to Bonnie Hickman’s rescue, further violating this child’s civil rights. A random parent organized a “Support Mrs. Hickman” rescue, urging friends and supporters to email the GPS Chief Talent Officer and an HR subordinate on Bonnie Hickman’s behalf. Making things all the crazier (but par for the course in GPS) the random parent reportedly assured people that the victim, once again publicly identified and targeted for disability harassment, actually was *all smiles* and just fine.

How could the random parent have known WHICH child was involved, if Bonnie Hickman had not again violated FERPA by sharing the identity of that child with said random parent? *Support Hrs. Hickman,* indeed. Traumatize a child … again … too bad for the kid and now dozens if not hundreds of people who were told the name of the child.

Bonnie Hickman continued posting on social media, ranting that she was not going to let this child ruin her career. A percipient observation at the time: “It is an issue that isn’t public, which means either Bonnie Hickman violated FERPA again by telling one of them, or these loons are just blindly throwing their support behind Hickman without knowing what she is accused of.”  Sheeeeeesh.

Once random parents got into the act, obviously with Bonnie Hickman’s tacit if not overt encouragement, top level GPS administrator Suzanne Zentner, GPS Chief of Talent Management was roped in to shut down the public controversy. Suzanne Zentner’s next actions are just plain crazy and totally wrong in a situation involving a teacher harassing a student and engaging in inappropriate physical contact. Add in the fact that Bonnie Hickman singled out this child because she had ADHD, which was noted in her FERPA-protected records; now you can understand why Westie considers Suzanne Zentner to be such a slime bucket of a person in addition to being an utterly incompetent administrator.

The story will continue shortly. Stay with us!

Calendar alert! October is ADHD Awareness Month. If your child, or someone you know has ADHD, please help them through research, compassion and caring. There’s a special place in heaven for people who overcome disabilities to find love and success in their lives!

If your child has been harassed because of a disability, get invaluable advice here.

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