Farmington, Connecticut (WFSB) – Federal education officials are investigating allegations of discrimination at Farmington Middle School.

Three parents at Irving A. Robbins Middle School claim their LGBTQ students were bullied last year.

Channel 3 spoke with one of those parents.

“It started early in the school year. Daily bullying and harassment,” says Melisa Combs.

Combs said her child dealt with a bullying incident last year. She says it wasn’t until January that the bullying got worse.

“The harassment ranged from being called f-slurs to being told to kill yourself and hang yourself,” says Combs.

She says one event brought her to a breaking point.

“Several students entered the teacher’s classroom, pulled the pride flag from the wall, carried it out into the hallway and began stomping on it. Others joined in and were chanting to burn it.” says Combs.

Oliver Przech is president of Farmington Schools’ Gender and Sexuality Alliance. After the flag incident many students went to Przech.

“It was a very serious form of harassment and it affected everything: schoolwork, people’s character, everyone’s life,” Przech said.

Combs says she and other parents have asked for an investigation into the incident, but she says they were denied.

Because of that incident and several others, Melissa filed a 54-page complaint leading to this investigation from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

“You have to pick your battles, and this was keeping my child alive,” Combs says.

The Farmington Superintendent issued the following statement:

Equity and Inclusion Statement

Farmington Public Schools

August 22, 2022

Farmington Public Schools is committed to creating an inclusive and safe school environment throughout the district and promoting equity, inclusion and student well-being. We take issues related to student civil rights seriously and have undertaken substantial diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives to foster our commitment to a diverse student body. We do not tolerate disrespectful or offensive behavior by our students or others in our school community. We also take disciplinary action in rare circumstances where a student has behaved in such a way. We work diligently with all members of our school community to foster a strong sense of belonging.

There are several school board policies and regulations that are in line with state and federal law and that speak to the district’s commitment to fairness and inclusion. These policies will be complied with promptly when a problem with student conduct is witnessed or reported to staff. These policies include the Non-Discrimination Policy, the Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment Based on Disability (Section 504), and the Safe School Environment Policy Prohibiting Bullying Behavior, including Behavior Based on Protected Characteristics. It is included.

The school district has received notice that it has received a complaint from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and will work with the OCR to respond to the inquiry. It is also required by law to protect student privacy. Given the need to protect the integrity of the OCR process and the confidentiality of student information, the school district cannot comment further on the circumstances per individual student or state and federal student privacy laws and requirements. . Districts have different views on allegations of factual complaints, but we respect the process and work with OCR to help review these issues.

We have included several general resources that provide additional information about the district’s commitment to equity and inclusion across all schools and classrooms. Review these resources and the substantive initiatives and actions taken by all members of the school district community to support our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion that supports student well-being.

· stock website We have an equity and inclusion webpage that outlines all the elements of our equity and inclusion efforts at Farmington. This website also includes family-friendly resources. One of them is the Stigma Incident Protocol when dealing with prejudice, harassment, or discrimination. This protocol complies with school board policy and state and federal law.

https://www.fpsct.org/departments/curriculum-instruction/equity

· Community Council for Equity and Inclusion (CCEI): CCEI is a cross-functional board of students, parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials. This committee meets throughout the school year with a focus on continuous improvement in the areas of equity and inclusion. Find useful presentations and other information (click Community Council for Equity and Inclusion).

https://www.fpsct.org/departments/curriculum-instruction/equity

· Student Voice/Leadership: Here are some concrete examples of student voice and agency in the areas of equity and inclusion (click Student Voice and Leadership).

https://www.fpsct.org/departments/curriculum-instruction/equity

· Letter from the superintendent to the whole district: This letter is posted on our Equity and Inclusion webpage and was sent to all Farmington families to communicate our commitment to equity and inclusion across the district.

https://www.fpsct.org/uploaded/Central_Office/EquityInclusion/2021-2022/Superintendent’s_Message.pdf

· FPS SCHOOL DISTRICT LEVEL FIVE-YEAR REVIEW Reflecting on Equity and Inclusion Commitments (Specific Actions the District Has Taken Related to Equity and Inclusion): See the document below entitled “District-Wide Equity Focused Overview 2017-2022”. -This is a document that articulates district-wide actions that have underpinned our continuous improvement efforts in the areas of equity and inclusion over the past five years. Additional measures will be taken at the school level and will be reflected in individual school improvement plans each year.

Channel 3 has reached out to the middle school principal for a statement and is awaiting a response.



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