A Phoenix couple is making the drastic move of pulling all of their children out of public schools, saying their bullying concerns seemed to be falling on deaf ears.
Clarissa Walker and Tim Moore had four children enrolled at Alta Vista Elementary School, which is part of the Washington Elementary School District.
The couple says their children were coming home every day, complaining about being bullied at school. The incidents ranged from being called derogatory names, insults hurled toward their families and the way they dressed, and their mixed heritage. The couple said their daughter even came home with bleeding scratch marks on her neck one day.
Walker and Moore said every single time they took these concerns to staff at Alta Vista Elementary School.
"We've maybe gone to the principal's office, met with teachers and brought this up maybe 20 or 30 times," said Walker.
"All we ever hear is, 'We'll do an investigation, we'll do an investigation,'" said Moore.
The parents said their children were terrified to go to school, and would beg to stay home.
"Sometimes my daughter wouldn't go to sleep at night. She would tell me very late at night because she was traumatized from getting bullied every single day. It was getting to her," said Walker.
Even their young son was fearful of going to school.
"He would be like, 'Can I stay home dad? Please. Everybody picks on me, they pick on us,'" Moore recalls the boy saying. "How am I supposed to tell my 7-year-old you have to go to school, to what? Get bullied?"
After getting no response from the school about their concerns, the couple decided to pull their children from the district, and are now in the process of enrolling them in online classes.
"They're going to be safe, they're going to get their education, they're going to get proper care in a safe environment where they're not going to get bullied," said Walker.
ABC15 reached out to district officials to look into these concerns. A spokeswoman sent us this following statement"
The Washington Elementary School District (WESD) does not tolerate bullying in any form and investigates all complaints in a timely and thorough manner. The District provides annual bullying prevention and reporting training to all school administrators and staff. FERPA laws prevent the WESD from speaking about the specifics of any student or family.
Privacy laws did not allow district officials to give us any information regarding specific students, nor if any disciplinary actions were taken against the children accused of being the bullies.
Walker and Moore feel the school should have done more to protect their children.
"They say they have a zero tolerance policy, which means you bully someone and you're gone. Why don't they enforce this zero tolerance policy," asked Moore.
This couple is not alone. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost 2 million families have turned to homeschooling their children.
The number one reason cited is "concerns about school environment."
In Arizona, a spokesman for the Arizona Families for Homeschooling said 36,000 children were enrolled in a home school environment.
Walker said he hoped district officials took a closer look at their concerns, and worked harder to make families and children feel safe on school grounds.