Jamie Mitchell • Times Record
The Bollman family, Logan, from left, and his parents Scott and Janelle talk Friday, June 7, 2013, about how their family has suffered through years of children bullying their son.
Jamie Mitchell • Times Record
Logan Bollman, a rising 11th-grader at Greenwood High School, sits on the family hearthstone at his Greenwood home as he talks Friday, June 7, 2013, of longstanding bullying incidents he says he’s experienced at school since the fifth grade.
Logan Bollman, who will be a junior at Greenwood High School this year, cited his values as the reason he’s decided to make a public stand against bullying he said he’s experienced for the past six years.
He hopes it will enable people to better understand what being bullied is like. And, Logan said, “to let everybody know what I stand for, what I stand against.”
At the school district’s request, the Greenwood School Board will hear from Logan and his family and from school administrators at 10 a.m. July 25, said Janelle Bollman, Logan’s mother. She said the family would be satisfied if the district enforced its anti-bullying policy.
Former Superintendent Kay Headley and Superintendent John Ciesla said the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prevents school employees from discussing individual students.
“Every complaint, every report has been investigated. The district has a lengthy protocol to follow, listed in the handbook,” Headley said.
Ciesla said, “It’s sometimes a struggle because parents sometimes want to see consequences for the bullies, and I understand that can be a struggle, but FERPA prohibits releasing that information.”
According to a Sebastian County Sheriff’s Office report, when Logan was in junior high and in high school, school officials told several students to stop bullying him, talked to several parents and disciplined one student for the bullying.
The Bollmans moved to Greenwood when Logan was in fifth grade. Janelle and Scott Bollman planned for the town to be their permanent home when Scott Bollman retired from a 24-year military career. They moved to Greenwood when he was on his last tour in Iraq. He is chief executive officer for Camp Hope for Heroes at Fort Chaffee, a nonprofit agency serving transitioning and homeless veterans.
It was the first time the family was on deployment but not living on a military base, said Janelle Bollman, a Navy veteran and Camp Hope board chairwoman.
She describes her son as a hard worker who practices basketball for hours, an honor student who has never been in legal trouble and — except for an in-school suspension for missing a class — who has never been in trouble at school. Logan has logged 106 hours as a Camp Hope and Marine Corps League volunteer in the past year. He’s seeking an Eagle Scout ranking. His projects are building a masonry sign for Camp Hope and making a clothes rack for its clothes closet.
Before he went to Greenwood, Logan attended only military-base and private Christian schools.
Logan said a half-dozen male classmates began bullying him almost as soon as he entered Greenwood.
“I was being called a Mexican all the time, a Beaner, and this one kid was chasing and throwing a football at me. The next day I asked him why, and he said it was because I was a good-for-nothing, dirty wetback Mexican,” Logan said.
Logan’s heritage is Hispanic and Native American on his mother’s side and Irish and Scottish on his father’s side. Logan’s mother was born at Denver, and his father was born at Prairie du Chien, Wis. Logan was born at Portsmith (Va.) Naval Hospital.
Logan said the bullying continued, primarily on a racial basis. It progressed from verbal and emotional abuse to increasingly aggressive physical bullying, he said. He reported the incidents, beginning with the first one in the fifth grade.
Logan relates episodes at basketball practice, including “chesting,” an intimidation move where one person bumps or blocks another with his or her torso, being struck in the head and repeatedly punched in the groin, followed by threatening statements relayed to him later, saying the bullies “liked hurting me and wanted to hurt me even harder.”
Janelle Bollman said Logan decided “to stand up for his values and to handle the situation the right way by making the reports.”
He was taught not to hurt others, to treat others the way he wanted to be treated, his mother said.
It was also Logan’s decision to take his story public, and they support it, his parents said.
Scott Bollman noted it is difficult, particularly for a teen, to relate such experiences publicly.
“It is the same group of kids who do this and are allowed to continue doing this over the years. It is perplexing to us. We’ve been very nice and tried to address it in a positive way, but the teachers seem to pretend not to see it, and the school administrators haven’t been helpful,” Janelle Bollman said.
Talking with teachers and administrators left them frustrated, she said.
Logan’s parents said they are concerned about escalating physical aggression. The students are larger and stronger now. They worry their son may be injured.
The parents filed numerous formal complaints with the school and a detailed complaint with the Dallas division of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. In March 2012 they filed an incident report with the Sebastian County Sheriff’s Department regarding the aggression and racial remarks.
According to Scott Bollman, a deputy visited them at home, and one indicated he would visit basketball practice to check it out. As of June, the Bollmans said they hadn’t received a followup report.
Philip Pevehouse, Sheriff’s Department public information officer, told the Times Record the parents may not have received a written copy of the report. He readily provided it at the newspaper’s request.
According to a Jan. 28 report by William Cooper, investigator of the March 2012 terroristic threatening report, the deputy spoke with Janelle and Scott Bollman at their home Jan. 21. Cooper advised the parents how to document incidents.
According to Cooper’s report, then-junior high Principal Kevin Hesslen stated Logan’s mother told him of the incidents a day or more afterward. Hesslen said he told several students to stop bullying Logan. He also stated the Office of Civil Rights investigation cleared the district of wrongdoing. Hesslen is now an assistant superintendent.
According to Cooper’s report, high school Principal Jerry Efurd said he had disciplined one bullying student and told another to stop. Efurd said he asked several parents to talk to their children about it.
The Bollmans said they formally asked to speak to the school board, but received a letter denying their placement on the agenda. They attended the May board meeting but weren’t allowed to speak because they weren’t on the agenda.
The School Response
The student handbooks define bullying as intentional harassment, intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, defamation, or threat or incitement of violence by a student against another by written, verbal, electronic or physical act that causes or creates danger of physical harm to person or property, substantial interference with a student’s education or a school employee’s role, or a hostile educational environment. The wording complies with state legislation regarding school bullying.
Behaviors expressly forbidden include questions intended to embarrass or humiliate; mocking, taunting or belittling; nonverbal threats or intimidation such as “chesting”; demeaning humor related to a student’s race, gender, ethnicity or personal characteristics; deliberate physical contact or injury.
The handbook encourages students to report bullying. It mandates school employees report it if they witness it or are reliably informed about it. Students violating the policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.
Ciesla said Greenwood’s intent is to prevent bullying and to build on preventative measures each year. Its The Leader in Me program began at Westwood Elementary School. Based on Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the Westwood program is in its third year, Ciesla said.
It stresses proactive responses from teachers and students. It aims to build relationships between students and staff and among students, Ciesla said.
Headley said Greenwood’s annual discipline report to the Arkansas Department of Education indicates the program works.
In the past school year, according to the report, 36 students were disciplined for bullying, including one at Westwood and 19 at East Hills Middle School where the program just began. None was disciplined at East Pointe Elementary where it is in its second year.
Ciesla said reporting an incident immediately is key to timely intervention
Greenwood’s interventions include school-based, licensed mental health counselors, parenting classes and a volunteer-staffed, district-level parents center to provide resources, he said.
It’s important to work with bullies, too, as they sometimes also are bullying victims, Ciesla said.
Greenwood follows state policies for staff training in bullying intervention, and provides voluntary training beyond that, he said.
When a third party reports bullying, anybody’s report is considered credible and will be investigated, Headley said.